INDIANAPOLIS – On Thursday he conquered the first podium wearing a sport jacket with the number 34 and the initials “LB”, but Isaiah Simmons considers himself a man with no position.
It could be a bad thing in past eras of football – a prospect without a clear path, a wolf without a pack – but not in 2020. Defenders must be able to do more than one thing well and with the proliferation of hyper tight ends -atletics, a championship-level transition on the first pass and the consequent increase in the use of sub-packages, which cover from the sidelines to the sidelines are essentially a requirement. Simmons sees himself as the perfect fit for today’s NFL, although you can’t easily assign a letter or two to his list place.
“I think it’s really beneficial for me,” said Simmons, “because I know years ago it wasn’t nice to be a guy with no positions, but it only became an advantage for me for all the versatility I will be able to do. linebacker, play safely, whatever it is, I feel it helps me. “
It certainly stimulates the interest of the spectators. At 6 feet 4 and 238 pounds, Simmons has a chassis that could take on a multitude of transformations. It could gain 15-20 pounds and become a terror out of the limit, or it could maintain its current appearance, build good muscle and strength and serve as a rare talent in the middle of a defense that can play every down. He could even deepen the coverage thanks to his experience in the security field.
With that in mind, Simmons’ first response to a question about an NFL player confrontation shouldn’t have been so surprising to him. The Olathe, Kansas native has selected a key figure in the Chiefs’ race to Super Bowl LIV, who has turned into a talented star in a school not far from Clemson.
“The first name that comes to mind would be Tyrann Mathieu because he bounces around, plays everywhere in the previous seven,” said Simmons.
The confrontation with the best NFL talent begins only with Mathieu. Simmons has listed two additional and probably even more notable names as models for anyone who wants to be a defender.
“I modeled my game after a couple of people,” said Simmons. “If I have to go watch someone’s movie to get something, it would be like Von Miller only for the pass rush, Jalen Ramsey only for man’s techniques and Tyrann Mathieu only because he also plays everywhere. I take pieces from all of them to throw myself in the my game. “
Sugar, spices and all that is beautiful to make Simmons a unique talent with not only a high ceiling, but it could also be difficult to distinguish. As football goes on, the league of scripts almost always produces a counter for the latest hot trend and Simmons could be the model for responding to the rise in double-threat quarterbacks like Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes. Just as Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates ushered in the current era of extraordinarily athletic and productive extremes, Simmons could be the first of the new era of linebackers.
There are things he will have to clean up – faster reading and response time as a linebacker, improved running adaptations and shedding blocks (especially against stronger and faster linemen) – but his potential to serve as a rare defender able to cover, the turnover of force and the equipment in the open field are too negligible. The mental workload of playing multiple positions was not too much for him in Brent Venables’ complex defense as Clemson, which means he could have had a faster learning curve than the medium-high choice.
All signs point to future success, although they cannot point us to its exact location.