The #8 pick of the 2020 NFL Draft, Clemson consensus All-American and Dick Butkus Award winner, LB/S Isaiah Simmons, has taken a paltry 25 snaps in the Arizona Cardinals’ first two games (only 7 in yesterday’s 30-15 win over Washington).
Here is how and why Isaiah’s number of snaps should change.
That is—-if the coaches have the perspicacity to play Isaiah where he can help the team the most.
With exciting new UFA WILB De’Vondre Campbell proving to be the Cardinals answer for covering TEs and select RBs—-Isaiah is not needed in the WILB role.
With another exciting new UFA Devon Kennard and 2017 1st Round pick Haason Reddick forging a strong tandem at SAM OLB—-Isaiah is not needed in the SAM OLB role.
With safeties, Budda Baker and Chris Banjo (with Jalen Thompson hopefully returning after two more games) playing well—-Isaiah is not needed in the SS or FS role.
Where the Cardinals could use Isaiah Simmons best right now is at nickel LB in place of Jordan Hicks.
Last season Hicks gave up 71 catches on 87 targets for 824 yards, 546 of them in (rac) run-after-catch yards and 5 TDs. His lowest PFF grade was in pass coverage at 53.8, as opposed to his highest grade which was run defense at 69.1.
In Week 1 versus the 49ers, Hicks’ coverage grade was again an issue at 57.1.
By allowing Hicks to focus on his run defense in the base defense and thereby allowing Simmons to focus on his pass coverage, blitzing, spying, chase down tackles and all-around playmaking skills in the team’s sub packages could give the Cardinals the best of both worlds.
The coaches like to keep Hicks on the field at all times because he called the defensive signals—-but—-in sub packages they could have Budda Baker call the signals, as a necessary means for bolstering the team’s athleticism and playmaking abilities. Meanwhile using Hicks and Simmons in a shared role could keep them honed in on their strengths and reasonably fresh.
Come on Cardinals.
This kid is too dynamic to keep in moth balls on the sideline.