Another NFL analyst has noticed the same thing that Clemson fans have seen the last few seasons. On Thursday the crew on NFL Network’s weekday morning football talk show, “Good Morning Football”, discussed what defensive rookies they are most excited to see play in 2020.
Kyle Brandt, one of the show’s co-hosts, went with former Clemson star and current Arizona Cardinals linebacker Isaiah Simmons, as the first year defender he can’t wait to watch this season.
“Why do I want to see Isaiah Simmons? Because we see guys come into the league and they get really flattering comps,” Brandt said. “‘This guy reminds me of a young Luke Kuechly, a Jevon Kearse.’ Like, great players. Isaiah Simmons’ comps are like, LeBron (James). He goes outside of the sport. He’s almost like a video game player. They’ve transcended other players. So I just want to see this guy completely change the game of football on the first third down the Cardinals face this year.”
Simmons was taken eighth overall in the 2020 NFL Draft by Arizona. He is a freak athlete with versatile talent. So much so that he lined up all over the field on defense for Clemson. The 6’ 4”, 238-pound Simmons was a unanimous All-American in 2019 and won the Butkus Award last season, the award handed out to the nation’s top linebacker.
The Cardinals liked Simmons so much, in order to land him they were willing to pass on first rate offensive tackle prospects who could have provided protection for quarterback Kyler Murray. They were also willing to pass on top wide receivers like Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb and Alabama’s Henry Ruggs.
“I would say this, too – look at the thing that the Cardinals are building on offense there, that Kliff (Kingsbury) wants to do with Kyler, and look at the players they could’ve had,” Brandt said. “Like, they could have had CeeDee Lamb, who Kyler was openly campaigning for. They could have said ‘screw it’ and drafted Ruggs. Imagine they go five wide with D-Hop (Deandre Hopkins) and Larry Fitz (Larry Fitzgerald) and Christian Kirk and (Andy) Isabella and CeeDee Lamb. They could’ve done that, and then you can cancel the season. Or they could’ve gone with a couple of tackles up there, just as a conservative pick to build around the offense.“
“And yet they said you know what, this Simmons dude is so crazy, we’re going to say ‘screw it’ to all those wide receivers that we’re salivating for and we’re going to take him, the guy who gets Giannis Antetokounmpo comparisons. So, this guy, expectations are so high for what a good athlete he is, I just want to see it. That first third down, I’m there.”
Simmons will be missed badly by the Tigers on the defensive side of the ball this season. At the same time, he will be a sight to watch on Sundays. Especially after seeing what Clemson nation has grown to expect to get out of Simmons week in and week out.