On Friday, after Travis Etienne’s shocking decision to return to Clemson for his senior year, attention turned to the team’s best defensive player. Most figured that Isaiah Simmons was definitely NFL Draft-bound, but nothing official was out there.
Per one report, Simmons told the staff entering the 2019 season that it would be his last, barring something unforeseen. That made sense, since he had a great 2018 sophomore campaign.
He did not disappoint this fall. If Chase Young was the nation’s best defensive player, and Simmons’ play calls that into question, the Clemson star was by far the most versatile.
He was probably the best Tiger during Monday night’s National Championship Game, showing off his ability to make plays at every level of the defense.
It was unclear if Simmons would make a grand online announcement, but moments ago, he did just that. Moments after ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that he was officially entering the NFL Draft, Simmons tweeted the decision:
Take a chance, because you never know how perfect something can turn out pic.twitter.com/nG7AzrCHJt
— Isaiah Simmons (@isaiahsimmons25) January 18, 2020
From Isaiah Simmons’ post:
“And now, it’s time for me to take the next step in my journey. Today, it is with great humility and gratitude that I announce that I will be DECLARING FOR THE 2020 NFL DRAFT. While I am incredibly excited about the opportunities and challenges that await me, please know that part of my heart will always remain here in Clemson, South Carolina.”
Simmons is most commonly called a linebacker, but that far underplays his role on the defense. He was a true Swiss Army Knife for Brent Venables, playing significant snaps at both inside and outside linebackers, safety, cornerback, and defensive end.
He could cover receivers and was also probably the team’s most dangerous pass rusher.
Isaiah Simmons by alignment for Clemson in 2019:
* Safety: 218 snaps
* Slot CB: 286 snaps
* OLB: 160 snaps
* ILB/MLB: 120 snaps
* Perimeter CB: 17 snaps
He rushed the passer 71 times and had *7* sacks.
The most versatile player in the 2020 NFL Draft.
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) January 18, 2020
In the modern NFL, where offenses often go up-tempo and look to exploit mismatches, having a guy like Simmons who can play all over the field is invaluable.
He will likely be a top five-to-10 pick in the NFL Draft this April.