The combine isn’t the be-all-end-all for the prospects set to enter the NFL draft, but depending on how they perform, players can rise or fall on teams draft boards. One top prospect’s performance may force the Detroit Lions to rethink their draft strategy.
We all knew Isaiah Simmons was expected to be a top-ten pick, but his combine performance over the weekend may have launched his stock into being a top-five choice. Perhaps the Detroit Lions will be interested in selecting him third overall?
For that to happen, I’d expect a few different sequences would have to occur. The Detroit Lions will surely entertain the thought of trading back in the first round of the draft if a team makes a rich offer, adding draft capital to general manager Bob Quinn’s draft.
The ideal situation would be the Miami Dolphins, who have a plethora of picks in 2020, including three first-round choices. If they have their sights set on Tua Tagovailoa, nothing is stopping them from coming to an agreement with the Washington Redskins for the second overall pick. With plenty of teams looking to secure a quarterback, a trade with Washington may allow Ohio State’s Chase Young to fall to the Detroit Lions, picking third overall.
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I do believe Chase Young is Detroit’s first choice. Auburn’s Derrick Brown I expect would be their second choice, but Clemson’s talented swiss army knife Isaiah Simmons’ combine performance may have something to say about that, and then there is Jeffrey Okudah.
Not that long ago, Okudah emerged as the front runner to be selected by Detroit, especially with the uncertainty of Darius Slay‘s return to the Lions next season. Since then, the others listed have all seemed to rise, and we can make an argument to select any of them, plus we can’t rule out Detroit taking Tua.
Making a case for Simmons.
Simmons can play all over within the defense; linebacker, safety, and corner. According to Pro Football Focus, last season with Clemson Simmons lined up 299 times as an inside linebacker, 116 as an outside linebacker, 262 as a slot corner, 132 as the free safety and 100 times as the strong safety. Can you say versatility?
Simmons appears he’d be successful in any defensive scheme, but he’s a player Matt Patricia would love to have to anchor his defense. Simmons is built like a linebacker at 6 foot 4, 238 pounds but as fast as a cornerback. It’s a rare mix of size and speed; a freak of nature.
His 40-time at the combine was a spectacular 4.39. To give you a quick comparison, wide receiver Jerry Jeudy ran a 4.46. Simmons also recorded a 39.0 verticle jump and a 132.0 broad jump. Again to compare, wide receiver Henry Ruggs recorded a 42.0 verticle leap and 131.0 broad jump. This reinforces Simmons’ athleticism.
Being a flawless prospect, I can’t help but wonder if Simmons has climbed the Detroit Lions draft board. He should be considered with the third overall pick, but don’t be shocked if Detroit decides to select him over the others mentioned. If Detroit happens to trade back to five where the Dolphins await, and New York takes Derrick Brown or an offensive tackle, I could see Detroit selecting Simmons over Okudah just for his versatility.
Last season with the Tigers, Simmons recorded 104 tackles, 17 of which were tackles for a loss, 8 sacks, 3 interceptions, 2 fumbles forced, 1 recovered, and 8 passes defended. Incredible.