Following the Rookies: NFC West Arizona Cardinals
Updated: Oct 28, 2020
In these articles I am going to highlight one or two rookies on every team in the NFL that I have been watching since their last year in college or have jumped onto the scene early in their NFL careers. We're going to start with the NFC West where I will highlight Isiah Simmons of the Arizona Cardinals and how he has been used so far this year as well as what the future holds.
So far this year you can say that Isiah Simmons playtime and his performance have both been lacking to say the least. According to pro football reference Simmons has started 4 of 7 games averaging 16% of defensive snaps and 25% of special teams snaps with week one being his highest percentage of defensive snaps at 29%. This has been disappointing considering he was the number 8 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. His stats have also gotten off to a slow start, he has 12 total tackles (10 solo/2 assisted) with 1 pass defended and 1 interception. He has been targeted 7 times for 5 completions and 28 yards all according to pro football reference. On the bright side though he made the defensive play of the game last night against the Seahawks where he showed a heavy blitz over the A gap and was able to show off his speed and athleticism to drop quickly into coverage and intercept a Russell Wilson pass with about 1 minute left in OT to set up the Cardinals game winning field goal.
The reason why Simmons was such a polarizing prospect in this years draft was the fact that he could line up all over the field and do just about everything on defense. At Clemson he lined up at defensive line, off-ball linebacker, slot corner, outside corner, and deep safety, with the majority of them coming as an off-ball linebacker, slot-corner, and deep safety. So far with the Cardinals Simmons has played as an off-ball linebacker and on special teams. Now the Cardinals already have a swiss army knife type player in Budda Baker who lines up all over the field but imagine if the Cardinals had two swiss army knife players... this is where Isiah Simmons should come into play more. Simmons could easily become the Robin to Budda Baker's Batman and the Cardinals could possess an elite dynamic duo of defensive players who can create havoc all over the field.
At the end of the day I think the Cardinals are taking it very slow with Isiah Simmons so he can be a center piece of that defensive for a long time, but sooner or later his elite talent and athleticism will show up with more plays like the interception in OT against the Seahawks.