Latest NFL Mock Draft Has Falcons Trading up for Star Defender

Isaiah Simmons

Getty Safety Isaiah Simmons #11 of the Clemson Tigers.

NFL free agency has slowed down with the Atlanta Falcons making early bold moves mainly on the offensive side of the ball. Now it’s time to fill in the gaps with the upcoming draft.

Right now, the Falcons have six draft picks, the first being at No. 16. NFL.com writer and draft analyst Chad Reuter has the Falcons linked to Clemson defender Isaiah Simmons, trading with the New York Jets to move up to No. 11.

Simmons could add great depth behind the Falcons signing of Dante Fowler in free agency and fill the void of the Falcons losing Vic Beasley and De’Vondre Campbell.

A ‘Do It All’ Top Prospect

Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff strongly believes in interchanging athletic safeties and he wants to draft versatility.

“You get athletic safeties out there, you can interchange them,” Dimitroff said to AtlantaFalcons.com. “We have to be versatile. We have to have numbers at corners and safeties, guys who can move. It’s not just about the old in-the-box safety that can nut up on people. That person will be isolated at times when they’re trying to cover a tight end or a running back. You have to be adept enough in coverage.”

As a Clemson Tiger, Simmons has learned to adapt in several positions. He’s been moved around from safety, edge, and linebacker.

Simmons is on board with the new trend in the NFL where teams are working with only the best players and figuring out where they can perform their best at, regardless of where they’ve played in the past.

“I think it’s beneficial for me. I know years ago it wasn’t good to be a positionless guy,” Simmons said at the combine. “But now it’s become a benefit for me just because of all the versatility I’ll be able to do, play linebacker, play safety, whatever it is, I feel like it just helps me out.”

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Simmons’ Scouting Report

The 6-foot-4, 238-pound natural athlete played in 15 games before forgoing his senior year. He recorded 102 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, 3 interceptions and one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery.

NFL analyst Lance Zierlein calls Simmons a “Jack-of-all-trades” in his review.

Ascending hybrid talent with rare length, speed and versatility to create mismatches for the offense, depending upon alignment. He has a bachelor’s at three positions (slot corner, safety, linebacker) but could earn a master’s degree in complex workload with a more focused and defined job description than “jack-of-all-trades.” He can handle zone or man coverage from a variety of spots on the field, which gives defensive coordinators a chance to disguise blitz packages and exotic post-snap looks. He’ll miss run fits and can be misdirected due to a lack of instincts near the line, but his playmaking range outweighs those concerns for now. His unique potential to spy and shrink the field against dual-threat quarterbacks could push him way up the draft board.

The Falcons’ main priority right now should be drafting a cornerback but they were extremely aggressive in free agency this year than they have been in recent years so this move wouldn’t come by surprise.

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