Isaiah Simmons is an enigma. He can be seen on a football field taking down the quarterback, dropping back in coverage against tight ends and running backs, and even setting up on the outside with a team’s top receiver.
In short, he can literally do it all on defense. And he said as much during his media availability at the NFL Scouting Combine on Thursday.
“Just kinda like a Swiss Army knife,” Simmons said. “[You can] move me around because then I can really show what I can do. I wouldn’t say I’m really tied down to one position. So Coach [Brent] Venables really used me in a special way that most people aren’t able to be used.”
Simmons’ physical abilities are off the charts, and the Combine should prove that. At 6-foot-4, 230 pounds, Simmons’ video racing against his Tigers teammate in RB Travis Etienne has gone viral, as he was neck-and-neck with him in a 40-yard dash. He’s expected to run around a 4.4 when linebackers go on Saturday. Simmons is also very strong, with the abilities to get through offensive lines, shake blocks, and get to the ball carrier.
But he is position-less, and for some NFL teams, they may not know how to use him. Like Simmons said, Clemson’s defensive coordinator in Venables used his versatility in a creative way, so that offenses couldn’t truly plan around him. Simmons, though, doesn’t see that as an advantage in the slightest.
“Years ago, it wasn’t good to be a position-less guy,” he said, “but now it’s become a benefit for me just for all the versatility…”
The Giants could use someone like Simmons in the middle of their defense, especially with Alec Ogletree — the team’s signal caller on that side of the ball last season — cut on Wednesday. New defensive coordinator Patrick Graham could use a Swiss Army knife on his roster, and more with multiple holes needing to be filled.
In Simmons, Graham would also have a new-age linebacker, one that can go toe-to-toe with players like Travis Kelce and George Kittle — who he called out specifically — in the open field.
“Stopping tight ends and linebackers playing man on running backs — the game’s no longer a 250-pound linebacker,” Simmons said. “It’s more of guys that can run side to side and are able to cover because it’s such a necessity now with the tight ends and running backs.”
Will Simmons impress the Giants enough to take him at No. 4 overall? Could they potentially trade down and still be able to grab him? That may come down to who he impresses on Saturday.