The Atlanta Falcons have six draft picks in the 2020 NFL Draft, the first being at No. 16. That could change if the Falcons decide to trade up and right now the Falcons are expected to make that move.
For who? That’s unclear. But there is one player who could fill several voids for the Falcons. Clemson’s star defender, Isaiah Simmons would be an ideal pick for Atlanta to kill more birds with one stone.
The Falcons were projected to trade up with the New York Jets to get the No. 11 spot but that won’t be high enough to get home. They will need to move up to an earlier pick if they want Simmons.
As a Clemson Tiger, Simmons has learned to adapt in more than just one position. He’s been moved around from safety, edge, and linebacker.
Simmons is “all in” 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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The 6-foot-4, 238-pound linebacker, Simmons flourished as a Tiger. He led all defensive players with 97 tackles in 2018 and accumulated seven pass defenses and a pick-six.
The following season, Simmons only continued to improve at linebacker, registering 104 tackles, 16.5 tackles for a loss, eight sacks, eight pass defenses and three interceptions. At the end of the 2019 season, he was awarded the Butkus Award as the nation’s top linebacker for his efforts.
NFL analyst Lance Zierlein detailed what you can expect from Simmons.
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.
Falcons on Track With Drafting Versatility
Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff strongly believes in interchanging athletic safeties and plans on drafting players with 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.”