Elite Defender May Drop

April 18th, 2020

A defensive dream come true.

This has Joe absolutely watering at the mouth.

In Joe’s eyes, there is no better defensive player in the draft than Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons. This guy is a friggin’ gamewrecker of the highest order.

Simmons can play safety.

Simmons can play corner.

Simmons can play inside linebacker.

Simmons can play outside linebacker.

Simmons can be an edge rusher.

Simmons can hit.

Simmons can tackle.

And it seems, per Benjamin Solack of The Draft Network, Simmons just may slip out of the top-10 in next week’s draft.

There will always be prospects who fall out of the first round that we neither foresee nor understand at the time — news will leak later justifying their descent — but the player I’m interested in today won’t fall out of the first round. Rather, they will fall just outside of the top 10. Some people will be shocked and call him the steal, perhaps they will be right.

But I’m having trouble getting Clemson defensive mystery box Isaiah Simmons into the top 10.

Joe just cannot imagine Simmons getting past Detroit, the Giants, Carolina and Jacksonville.

But if somehow, someway Simmons falls to Jacksonville and they don’t want him, it’s time for Bucs AC/DC-loving general manager Jason Licht to call Jags shot-caller Dave Caldwell and talk turkey. Quickly.

This Simmons is something els,e man. And Joe thinks Bucs defensive coordinator Todd Bowles would go wild putting this guy all over the field to wreak havoc.

No, the Bucs don’t need another linebacker but eventually, Simmons could replace Lavonte David who is no spring chicken. Simmons is a no-brainer upgrade over Mike Edwards. And Bowles likes to blitz? Simmons can do that quite well, thank you.

Of course you can fairly ask why if Simmons is so good would he slip to the bottom of the top-ten? Well, first, teams are picking in the top-ten for a reason and one is bad decisions. Another would be some already have their minds made up who they will choose.

Joe remembers hearing Hall of Fame general manager Bill Polian just go crazy about Simmons recently on his show “Late Hits,” heard exclusively on SiriusXM NFL Radio. Polian is not keen on blowing smoke up prospects’ tailpipes but he absolutely gushes over Simmons.

“This guy, if he gets in the right defense, is the next Derrick Brooks,” Polian said.

Simmons on the Bucs? That’s right up there with Rachel Watson answering her front door for Joe.

Here is what scouts told Bob McGinn of The Athletic about Simmons:

Simmons is possibly the most versatile defensive player in the draft. “He’s the best linebacker or the best safety,” said one scout. “It’s where you want to play him. He’s phenomenal. He’s a top-three pick, athletically. I saw him line up in like five different alignments, and they were playing somebody good. He’s not mean, but he’s not soft. His cover skills are unique for a man that big.” Simmons had a great combine, with a 40 of 4.38 seconds, a vertical jump of 39 inches and a broad jump of 11 feet. “I have never seen anything like him,” said a second scout. “This guy can rush the passer, play on the line of scrimmage, move 12 to 15 yards down the field and cover people. Against Louisville, he picked up (Tutu Atwell), the (little) slot who was quick, and covered him on a corner route and broke it up. I said, ‘Is that Simmons? Oh, my God.’” Production included 11 sacks, four interceptions, 20 passes defensed and six forced fumbles. “He’s talking about he’s a better pass rusher than Khalil Mack and he covers better than ‘Honey Badger’ (Tyrann Mathieu),” said a third scout. “Hey, c’mon, man. No. If an offensive coordinator or quarterback sees him as a single-high safety, they’re going to throw at him every single time. He’s a really good athlete for a linebacker but not a really good athlete for a safety. If they play him in the slot, they’ll throw at him because he can’t cover receivers. They scheme him off the edge and he comes flying and he’s free. He’s got some sacks because of that. It is not as if he’s putting his hand down and working moves, spinning, bull rushing, slipping and dipping. He’s not doing any of that. He’s running straight or they’re stunting him where he comes flying free through the gaps. He is not a tough, physical football player. He’s not a hitter. Doesn’t break down well. I don’t get it. Down in and down out, he’s not a factor or a difference-maker.”

Dane Brugler, also of The Athletic, breaks down Simmons:

SUMMARY: A two-year starter at Clemson, Simmons played a hybrid Sam/nickel role in Venables’ 4-3 base scheme, playing a position that combined the responsibilities of safety, linebacker and cornerback. A track star turned safety turned linebacker, he was the centerpiece of the Tigers’ defense and gave college play callers fits because of his pre-snap deception, not tipping if he was going to spy, blitz or cover. Simmons accelerates with ease and closes with burst, showing tremendous reaction to movement and open-field ability. He must do a better job defeating blocks before they happen, but his blend of length and speed makes him efficient working the edge. Overall, Simmons is the ideal modern-day defender with his ability to blitz, cover and stop the run, projecting as a unique four-down defender with the multi-dimensional skills to be deployed in any situation.

If the Bucs somehow wind up with Simmons, it may not matter what they do the rest of the draft weekend. They will have won the draft.

59 Responses to “Elite Defender May Drop”

  1. Fat ginger joe Says:

    Well written

  2. Allbuccedup Says:

    Agree draft a tackle with your third pick.

  3. Mort Says:

    We know how they would use him already. “Money backer”.

    He is an LB/S tweener. He is very very good, but let’s not pretend he is a corner. That’s ridiculous.

  4. Destinjohnny Says:

    He can’t play safety at an elite level

  5. Tackleblockwin Says:

    He is such a fantastic tackler. Would love to have him.

  6. AlteredEgo Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation. Says:

    Hopefully that will not be an option…well not the best option…both OL & DL need serious attention

  7. Afo Says:

    He’ll be gone at 6 or 7 at worst

  8. AlteredEgo Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation. Says:

    CJ Henderson might be the one grit and pick choice if the ” top 4″ OT’s are gone

  9. Steven007 Says:

    If this happens you get them and you don’t look back. My only reservations is if I remember correctly, I heard similar things about jabrill peppers. And we all see how that’s going.

  10. Steven007 Says:

    *get him. And yes, money backer. Safety-linebacker hybrid. Throw them in the slot on occasion.

  11. Gofortheface30 Says:

    Yup. Him playing with devin white and lavonte – that insane speed and versatility. That could be beyond special. The one scenario in which I’d be all for giving up a 4 and a 3 to move up

  12. Buccaboo Says:

    Don’t get cute, we need a RT

  13. gotbbucs Says:

    Absolutely no way he falls, none.

  14. Just Sayin’ Says:

    I saw on NFL network last night that one suit or GM was quoted that this years mocks are more incorrect than ever before. Should be an interesting draft. I just don’t want to trade up for anybody.

  15. John Sinclear Says:

    But — Can he kick field goals? Accurately??

  16. SoIrie Says:

    The DL need serious attention??? @AlteredEgo…
    Please roll me up one out of your sack bcuz your so high I’m suprised you can type

  17. Cobraboy Says:

    I’m not a big believer in “tweeners” in the NFL.

    He’s not an ILB like White or David. He is not a DE/OLB in a 3-4.

    If he can’t play real safety, I don’t see a fit in the Bowles defense.

    That does not mean he can’t be a monster in a more traditional 4-3 as a Will. Like Mr. Derrick Brooks.

  18. firethecannons Says:

    Yeah forget Ruggs–get another fast WR later. Get this guy.

  19. Op Says:

    How is another linebacker going to help when Brady is getting thrashed from his right side?

  20. AlteredEgo Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation. Says:

    SoIrie Says:
    April 18th, 2020 at 11:24 am
    The DL need serious attention??? @AlteredEgo…
    Please roll me up one out of your sack bcuz your so high I’m suprised you can type.
    JPP & Suh are one year wonders…running on empty after that

  21. AlabamaBucsFan Says:

    Joe’s fantasy – no way this guys falls to us. Bucs will lose out on all the pick they want and will trade down for more picks.

  22. Adam Lakers Carolla Says:

    Brooks was a game wrecker at FSU. On the surface, this kid looks like an athlete playing football. But wtfdik

  23. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    We need a top offensive tackle. And there is no way we take anything other than that unless Licht gets one in trade or free agency. You don’t sign the best QB in history and leave him undefended.

  24. WinnipegBucsFan Says:

    I was thinking about this just yesterday. What if he fell to 10. Do you think the bucs would trade up to get him with a need a tackle. Say 1 more tackle was still on the board also at pick 10.

  25. Zzbuc Says:

    It’s all about this season and the next one !
    He is not going to be there and we need OL.
    Interesting analisis but it doesn’t make sense to me.
    Is like discusing if the angels ara female or males. Juat doesn’t make sense!

  26. JimmyJack Says:

    Would be amazing to get this guy. Seems like the perfect player for all the different looks Bowles likes to show.

    Wonder if the trade up scenarios we keep hearing about are in case this guy does slip?

  27. Jean Lafitte Says:

    Your new football guru, the car salesman, says that Simmons wouldn’t be a good fit.

    I agree

  28. Gofortheface30 Says:

    Some of you need to read (or reread) Iras column yesterday. Right tackle isn’t near as important as some of you seem to think it is. You don’t pass up on a game wrecker for a RT good god..And for those of you that “don’t believe in tweeters,” I really hope you guys are the same people pounding your fists on the table for Derwin James. This guy is bigger, faster, better. I’m as PRETTY SURE Todd Bowles can make that work

  29. Mort Says:

    This is the worst draft in a long time for us to consider trading up. No no no. Cost way too much to move up. Much rather trade back and get a second or third rounder. I know you armchair GMs think there are only four OL players in the whole draft, but y’all need to stop. If we miss those four, that’s totally fine. There are other players in the draft. Derrick Brown and Javon Kinlaw are good DL players I’d take over this kid. We don’t have a good role for him and we do in fact need DL depth to plan for next year when Suh is definitely gone. We could even just take CEH in round 1 and get even Winfield Jr. in round 2 (if we are lucky) and then trade back into 2 and get your RT. Cleveland out of Boise could be a good late 2nd rounder. Don’t say it’s one of the four OL or bust. It’s not.

  30. Alvin Scissors Harper Says:

    Where do you play him as a pro? He’s certainly not going to play safety. Linebackers are already a strength. I’m not saying he can’t play, I just think we have bigger needs with our first pick and I don’t want to trade up for anyone. If anything, trade down for more picks.

  31. ©MadMax Says:

    Landing Simmons would do wonders for our D! We would be elite! and no, he’s not 5’11 214 – 4.46 40 jabril peppers….he’s 6’4 238 – 4.39 40. A guy that fast at that size in the backfield is a GAME WRECKER!! And how does anyone come to the conclusion he’s not an elite player since he hasnt played in the NFL yet…jeeze, some of you trip me out.

    Maybe he’ll make it to us #14, doubt it. He’s going top 7 more than likely. But trade ups happen for QB’s, WR’s and DE/DT….so you never know.

    Another one if he’s there, would be Brown. If its Brown or a RT, you take Brown.

    Keep the other team from scoring!! We can find a RT later if one of those two elites are there.

  32. Joe in Michigan Says:

    The difference between a “tweener” who makes it and one that doesn’t is a good defensive coordinator. Derrick Brooks (teams wanted him to play Safety) and John Lynch were tweeners and worked out great. Mark Barron was too, our DC didn’t know how to use him. There’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that Todd Bowles would use Isaiah Simmons to the best of his ability.

  33. 2020 Year of the GOAT Says:


  34. Rob in Land O Lakes Says:

    You never pass on a great player because you happen to have a good one.

  35. PragueBucsFan Says:

    Who drafts a right tackle at 14? Come on man. Get real.

  36. nano107 Says:

    If he is there pick him
    He is a game changer

  37. David Says:

    If he’s there, Definitely! A game changer.
    They can still take the RB in rd 2 and get an OL in rd 3.
    QB rd 4 (Jake Fromm!)

  38. Buccfan37 Says:

    The Bucs have a knack for sucking hind.

  39. Admiral Redbeard Says:

    Absolutely the most perfect fit for a Todd Bowles defense. He is the only other player I would take than RT in the first round of this draft.

  40. Roadwarrior Says:

    you guys know if Joe really wants this guy we probably shouldn’t pick him.
    I’m just saying. Sorry joe.☹️

  41. Kenny Says:

    The problem is, hes probably a LB… and we already have 2 of those.

    Yea, I think hes uber talented, but I just cant see us passing up on an OT or DT for him to play like 30% of defensive snaps….

    Unless you wanna trade away David?

  42. Pete Says:

    Mark Barron again

  43. C-Rock Says:

    I remember talking about Lavante David like this before the Bucs drafted him. I trust your excitement and you got me searching YouTube highlights of Simmons.

  44. stpetebucsfan Says:

    Simmons is a generational athlete who will take the “moneybacker” position to all new levels.

    But I can’t believe he’s going to fall that far.

  45. ItzOK Says:

    Itz Simmons for the biggest impact the bucs could make. I feel you can always draft a right tackle in rounds two or three. If you get the derwin james, honey badger swiss army knife safety it would secure the backend of the bucs defense and make it nasty. There are other options to securing your offensive line wether its drafting, trading or just resign Dotson who is proven can get the job done. You cant find the elite talent who can put your defense over the edge. People are valuing RT not even a left tackle way more than they should.

  46. JimbobBucsFan Says:

    If OT is not a target for the Bucs at 14 and either DT Javon Kinlaw or S/LB Isaiah Simmons is available which would you take?

    As a wild card situation I am intrigued by trying to picture how Todd Bowles would use Simmons in the defensive secondary.

  47. Rod Munch Says:

    The way he’s described he sounds like a classic tweener who isn’t really a good fit at any position.

    Not at all saying that is what he is and I haven’t done much reading on any defensive players really – but that description of a guy that is all over the field normally equals an NFL bust as NFL teams don’t normally let guys freelance like that and they generally are too small or too slow to play any one position.

    Again, not a prediction, but I’m not a fan of ‘do it all’ type players as that generally doesn’t translate to the NFL.

  48. ©MadMax Says:

    All you guys who wanted Derwin James, well, here’s a bigger faster version of him. He would rarely play LB for us. He’s all Safety next level, SS and FS, and one that can blitz the gaps too.

  49. ©MadMax Says:

    @Rod, they used him all over the place for college. He’ll specialize as a Safety….and he’s def not small or slow. Like you said, you havent read much on him. Doubt you’ve watched any true film study on him.

    Here, I’ll help… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-7_vc8AJE4

  50. stpetebucsfan Says:


    Agree. He has the chance to make real impact….immediately.

  51. Joe Says:

    I remember talking about Lavante David like this before the Bucs drafted him. I trust your excitement and you got me searching YouTube highlights of Simmons.


  52. ©MadMax Says:

    Answering questions:


    And the best highlight vid IMHO https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zfMlcwAYS2Y

  53. Buczilla Says:

    If he’s there for us at 14 I’m cool with picking him. No way in hell that I’m giving anyone draft picks to trade up for him though. Stick and pick Licht!

  54. Rod Munch Says:

    MadMax – Interesting stuff, as I said I hadn’t watched anything other than knowing his name from the national championship game. I did not realize he was that big until I looked up his combine, but yeah, if he can play safety at that size, then be used as a LB and edge rusher from time to time, that would be something and take care of a position of need…

    Still, just looking at the numbers, again with very limited knowledge of him, he just seems too big to be a safety. If he can really play that at the NFL level, again, that would be something since you could move him all over the field they way they used to do with Ronde.

  55. ©MadMax Says:

    Rod, how hyped was I on Marpet….how hyped was I on Big V…..how hyped was I on D. White…. We are transforming once again into an elite D that other teams fear. Defense wins championships. Keep the other team from scoring. Simmons is the prime candidate that is missing on our almost elite D. Sadly, we’ll probably miss out on him since he’s going top 7 (or top 4 to NY).

    Panthers are in rebuild mode and Im sure they would entertain a trade down from their spot at #7. Our 1st, both 4ths, OJ, and next years 3rd might be enough to entice them.

  56. Jason Mclaurin Says:

    I’m loving this guy and you brought him to my attention to Joe but ion think the Panthers let that slide out their grasp. I seen Bechton possibly dropping and I like our odds to trade a player and A draft pick to get back in the first to draft Bechton and Ruggs. I’m with the car dealer down there we need someone fast that can come and return punts and be a game changer on offense. I feel we can still get Edwards-Helaire and Dillon in the second and fourth round.

  57. Sorryjackchuckiesback Says:

    He would be ok to rotate with jpp… But see Joe (and I’m not trying to be mean or nothing) that’s what you do! Get all excited about a guy and want to throw everything at him not thinking about anything else… This dude is good and I believe would play that linebacker spot really well even tho he’s a tad undersized for that spot… But dude he would get OWNED in the NFL at safety!! It’s not just about track speed back there…. But yeah him or chaisson I’m in!! But yeah man a lot of this stuff they do in college just ain’t gonna work in the NFL …

  58. ©MadMax Says:

    @Sorry, how would he get “owned” as a Safety? Please elaborate….and im not trying to argue, just looking for that other side’s take on it. Maybe not FS in my opinion, but SS, oh yeah!

  59. Brandon Says:

    This guy would be an ideal SS in a blitz happy D. He can tackle, he can cover, he can blitz. If he’s there, you can’t pass on him, you just can’t.