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What we learned from Cardinals 1st-round pick Isaiah Simmons

In this Feb. 29, 2020, file photo, Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons watches the 40-yard dash at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis. Simmons is a likely first-round pick in the NFL draft Thursday, April 23, 2020. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

Isaiah Simmons has spoken with Arizona reporters twice since becoming the eighth overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft last Thursday.

There’s a lot still to learn. Where will he play the most? What will he excel at in the NFL? Will the Cardinals use him as a versatile jack-of-all-trades for a long time, or will he eventually slot into one role?

Simmons’ versatility only adds to the intrigue of the draft selection, but there are a few things to take away already in speaking with Simmons so far.

Here’s what we’ve learned, both in his press conferences with reporters and in his discussion with Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo on Monday.

WHY 48?

Simmons is going to wear No. 48.

“I was actually talking to my brother, like, ‘What number should I get? I got just a few options,'” Simmons said. “And 48, something I’ve learned, just the more and more I’ve learned about Arizona day by day, it’s the 48th state. So there’s some significance right there.

“Personal significance, there’s not really much there. I’ve always been a really low number. I feel like I was going to look good in it.”

At Clemson, Simmons wore No. 11.


Simmons and fellow draft selection Evan Weaver, whom the Cardinals took in the sixth round, met on Monday with the team’s linebackers coach, Bill Davis. They are also both listed as inside linebackers on the official roster.

Simmons, of course, will likely get some face time with multiple position coaches as he integrates into the Cardinals’ defense in different ways.


In school, Simmons’ favorite subject was math.

“I always grew up with school first, everything else second. So my mom, she went to Creighton and got her masters from Bowling Green, so she’s all about school. I remember growing up, if homework wasn’t done, I wasn’t going to football practice. So don’t even ask what time we’re leaving. I’ve always been a good student growing up.

“I also believe that the mental part of football is just as important if not more important when you’re playing. Because when you get to this point, everybody’s a good athlete, everybody is capable of doing the physical part. And the guys that really separate is the guys that are mentally sharp. I really pride myself on that.”


On Burns & Gambo, Simmons gave his thoughts on playing for a young coach like Kliff Kingsbury and sees similarities with his coach at Clemson, Dabo Swinney.

“Coach Swinney is 50 now but he’s really young at heart,” Simmons said. “I enjoy playing for a young-minded coach.”


“I was like, ‘God! Look at that!’ He has a beautiful house.”

Phillips Law Group

Burns & Gambo

Cardinals Interviews and Podcasts