Isaiah Simmons Scouting Report
Athletic Ability 9.3/10
Simmons is one of the most versatile players I have watched in college football this season. Simmons is a rare breed that is 230 pounds of pure athleticism, he can move sideline to sideline at blazing speed to get involved in every play. His ability to do all things on the defense is unique and something that not many players can do. He can line up as a safety, nickel corner or rush the backfield in sub packages. He is an all-around freak athlete, maybe the best one in college football.
Play Speed 9.2/10
There was a rumor this past summer that Simmons beat Clemson star running back Travis Etienne in a spring during a summer practice and coaches did nothing but look the other way when it happened. Whether the report is true or not, just by watching film, it would not surprise me if that turned out to be true. Simmons’ sideline to sideline ability to get involved and make a play is unmatched. He can get into the backfield with a blink of an eye and always finds a way to make a play.
Play Strength 8.4/10
As mentioned above, Simmons has an incredible amount of athleticism for a guy his size and the amount of speed and athleticism does not take away any of his toughness and strength. Simmons is an incredibly smart and rarely gets caught and slowed down by blocks and can either maneuver or power his way through to somehow get in the play. He is not the strongest guy on the field, he won’t overpower an offensive lineman backwards, but his ability to bring down ball carriers and find a way to get into the backfield, at all costs and his fluidity and balance to get there is impressive.
By far Simmons best trait. He is probably the best open-field tackler I have seen since Luke Kuechly. He does not miss guys; he does not over-pursuit and he uses his incredible speed to run down ball-carriers with ease. As mentioned, multiple times; his sideline to sideline range allows him to get involved in every play. He wraps up and never loses grip of the opponent, he brings them to the ground with ease and power and is smart when pursuing the ball-carrier. Simmons does not over-pursuit or lose footing while going in for a big hit. He is always getting involved and making a big play.
Football IQ 8.7/10
As I touched on earlier, Simmons is a very smart player. He does not over-pursue, doesn’t miss tackles, and is versatile on the backend of the Clemson defense. What makes Simmons special is his ability to make a play based on instinct and reading the QB. If you watch Simmons, he does not often lineup as a true linebacker. He is lined up everywhere from box safety, coverage linebacker, to nickel cornerback. He is able to be this versatile because he uses his eyes to read the Quarterback and make a smart decision based on what he sees from his eyes.
Zone Coverage 8.6/10
As a linebacker you will be given assignments in coverage. Whether that is against a slot receiver, a tight end or running back. What Simmons does so well is being able to adjust himself in coverage. In zone what Simmons does is he sits back and simply reads the quarterback (which I have alluded to before) and makes a perfect instinctual play on the ball. Simmons having experience as a safety and receiving work at slot cornerback (predominantly in sub packages while leaving a single high safety) . He has the speed to keep up with the receiver which is always good to see from a linebacker.
Man Coverage 8.4/10
Naturally a linebacker is going to be better in zone coverage versus man coverage. Zone relies more on instincts and reading a quarterback while man relies on speed, athleticism and overall coverage skills. Simmons has an advantage over other linebackers because of the defensive back background, and the amount versatility Clemson uses him in. Simmons has the speed and coverage skills to stick with his man in single man coverage, however, Simmons oftentimes plays to soft when in man and allows easy yardage and receptions with little to no pressure on the receiver when the ball is delivered. This is a positive thing because he will not give up big plays, but the underneath routes and intermediate throws over the middle seem to come with ease against him.
As I mentioned, Simmons is one of the best tacklers I have ever seen and scouted at the college level. With that comes an incredible nose for the football and ability to attack the ball-carrier. What Simmons is able to do is dissect a play in his head in seconds and make his play on the ball using his incredible lateral quickness, and agility. Simmons does a tremendous job of getting into the backfield within a split second and making a play. The best and most important part of a great tackler is the ability to break down the offense and pursue the play before it happens. Simmons does a great job of that.
I feel I have stated this 100 times in this report already, but Simmons does a great job at just making a pure instinctual play on the ball. This happens a lot for him in coverage where he will just jump in front of a route and deflect the ball so the receiver cannot get to it or anticipating a cut from a running back and making the extra lateral move to stop him in his tracks. Simmons is truly the type of guy you can let run your entire defense from the middle even if his collegiate experience is weak side and strong side backer.
Run Stopping 8.7/10
Again, back to instincts. Simmons’ length and speed allow him to get into the backfield with little to no trouble. And because he has a nose for the ball and can read and anticipate the play before it happens, Simmons racks up a lot of tackles from all over the field both on the edges and in the backfield. The nose for the ball and the high IQ shows a lot when defending the run.
Big Game Extra 4.5/5
I expect Simmons to be a top ten pick in this draft. He shined in all aspects of his film. He is able to make plays with incredible ease. His tackling ability completely jumped off the tape. He is an incredible athlete and can be used in various positions. There is not much negative for this guy. His ceiling is a Luke Kuechly level of talent. That says enough right there.
Even as good and clean of a prospect that Simmons is; there are a few minor areas of concern. While in coverage Simmons lacks the ability to turn his hips is slow. He oftentimes cannot adjust himself in time to make a play on the receiver. As a linebacker this is not a major issue, but if he is drafted as a safety he will have to improve in this area. The other concern I have with Simmons is his how he will fit on a defense. Which may sound redundant due to how much I love his versatility but I feel the defense will have to be built around his skillset, or he will play best in a defense that uses multiple schemes and personal looks as opposed to him sliding into a role on an already formatted defense.
Overall Simmons is a lot of fun. He is one of the most versatile and high IQ players I have seen in my time as an NFL scout. His tackling, especially in the open field is one of the best I have ever seen, and definitely one of the best at the collegiate level. His ability to play all over the field in various situations will make him a hot commodity in the NFL Draft, especially as the game continues to evolve into a more pass-happy deep ball league. I expect Simmons to be a contributor to any defense in any of his various ways. Whether he becomes a coverage backer, a captain of the middle, or turns into a guy like Jayron Kearse (a Clemson alumni) and becomes a special team ace and sub package nickel man. That being said, if Simmons turns out anything less than an All Pro, I would be wrong on him, he is that special.
Pro Comparison: Deone Bucannon
Overall Grade: 91.9