ARIZONA CARDINALS

Keim: Isaiah Simmons can ‘change the complexity’ of the Cardinals’ defense

Apr 24, 2020, 11:28 AM | Updated: 1:08 pm

(AP Photo/Chris Carlson)...

(AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

(AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

In the days leading up to the draft, Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim started to think about scenarios in which the players they most wanted to draft might be able to last until his No. 8 selection.

“As you walk through and you look at some teams ahead of you that were either quarterback needy, or you listened to the rumors and looked at a potential run on offensive tackles, that’s when you realize that this guy could actually slip to you and may not have a home in the top seven picks,” Keim said on Doug & Wolf on Arizona’s Sports Friday.

Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons was that guy for the Cardinals, Keim said.

“The bottom line is we had a lot of needs,” Keim said. “I felt like we took the best player on the board.”

Simmons has received player comparisons to Tyrann Mathieu and Derwin James. Listed at 6-foot-4, 239 pounds, he played more than 100 snaps at five different positions for Clemson.

“To be able to have a guy that’s a dynamic defender that can truly change the complexity of your defense, he’s a guy that you’ve just got to go ahead and take,” Keim said.

It will be up to the Cardinals coaching staff to best utilize him.

Keim said he envisions Simmons playing different linebacker positions and situationally moving to strong safety.

“When you take a player that has this type of flexibility, you want to make sure everybody’s on the same page … I think we have a great plan for him,” Keim said.

More simply than positional fit and advanced technique, though, Simmons excels in an area the Cardinals defense was far from excellent at last year.

“I don’t think there’s any question that we really struggled to tackle,” Keim said.

Simmons had 104 tackles for Clemson last season, 16.5 of which were tackles for loss. He also had eight sacks and three interceptions.

Even with his size, Simmons is very mobile and agile around the field, which Keim said he noticed in his scouting.

“The best thing about the guy for being such a long, gangly athlete, so to speak, is some of these guys that are that long, they have some stiffness or they have some limitations in space,” Keim said.

“The thing that I really like about his tape was you saw a guy with tremendous length be able to come to balance in space, be able to bend his knees, change direction and was a very, very good open field tackler.”

Presented By
Western Governors University

Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals GM Monti Ossenfort talks with head coach Michael Bidwill...

Tyler Drake

Bidwill: Cardinals GM Monti Ossenfort has resources necessary to attack free agency

Arizona Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill is excited for what GM Monti Ossenfort has cooking when it comes to 2024 free agency.

16 hours ago

Arizona Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill in the Arizona Sports studio...

Jesse Morrison

Arizona Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill gushes about GM Monti Ossenfort 1 year into job

Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill seems pleased with how general manager Monti Ossenfort and head coach Jonathan Gannon have done so far.

17 hours ago

Presented By...

Arizona Sports Video

Video: Arizona Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill talks belief in Monti Ossenfort and Jonathan Gannon

Arizona Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill joined Bickley & Marotta for Newsmakers Week and talked about his belief in Monti Ossenfort and Jonathan Gannon.

19 hours ago

Rome Odunze celebrates...

Tyler Drake

Jeremiah: Cardinals can’t go wrong with any of top 3 WR NFL Draft prospects

When it comes down to the top three wide-receiving draft prospects, NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah sees nothing but No. 1 WR potential.

1 day ago

Arizona Cardinals GM Monti Ossenfort...

Kevin Zimmerman

All eyes on 2024: Cardinals GM Monti Ossenfort talks NFL Draft philosophy

While Marvin Harrison Jr. is the prize, Arizona Cardinals GM Monti Ossenfort is keeping his pick options open in the 2024 NFL Draft.

2 days ago

Presented By...

Arizona Sports Video

Video: Monti Ossenfort explains his draft philosophy and thoughts on top wide receivers #arizonacardinals

Monti Ossenfort explains his draft philosophy and thoughts on top wide receivers

2 days ago

Keim: Isaiah Simmons can ‘change the complexity’ of the Cardinals’ defense