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Mile High Morning: Isaiah Simmons would be a tantalizing — if impossible — pick for the Broncos


The Lead

It is almost an absolute certainty that by the 15th pick, Isaiah Simmons will be long gone.

The former Clemson defender may not have the pure positional pedigree like that of prototypical edge rusher Chase Young or cornerback Jeff Okudah, but Simmons has emerged as a rare prospect who can transcend the "tweener" label that has stuck to so many players who are good at many things but not good enough at any one thing.

The fascinating thing about Simmons may just be that he's great at almost anything. With a 4.39-second 40-yard dash, he's got the speed to match up against the fastest receivers. At 6-foot-4 and 238 pounds, he has the size to defend against today's tight ends. At Clemson, he played three positions (28.5% of his snaps in 2019 were at safety, 39% at linebacker and 32.6% at cornerback, per Gil Brandt) and put up an incredible stat line in his final season with 104 total tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss, eight sacks, three interceptions and two forced fumbles.

That kind of skill that defies position led NBC Sports' Peter King to simply label him as a "defensive player" when he projected him to Arizona with the eighth-overall pick.

On Monday, ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit was asked which player or players in this draft may have the biggest impact on how NFL football is played. After expounding on how quarterbacks usually do that, he reversed course.

"I might say, just for fun, I might say Isaiah Simmons, who's like a Swiss-Army knife with how many different positions he can play," Herbstreit said. "He can play a nickel, he can play linebacker, he can play deep safety; he kind of does everything.

"I think whoever gets him is really going to have a guy that could help game the evolution of the way the defense is playing, as opposed to always focusing on the quarterback and the way the offense in the NFL continues to evolve and change."

The Broncos' defense should already be one of the league's finest in 2020, but it's hard not to delight in imagining what Head Coach Vic Fangio could do with a player like Simmons.

Will the Broncos have a chance to draft him? Save for a Laremy Tunsil-style draft-day tumble, it's hard to imagine that they'll have the chance — unless they trade up.

Below the Fold

Simmons, who was a team captain for the Tigers in 2019, would match the Broncos' draft strategy over the past two year. As President of Football Operations/General Manager John Elway said Monday during a conference call with local media, that kind of leadership has been key during the struggles of the past three seasons.

Which prospect in the draft aspires to get a degree in auto design? Who saved his sister's life with a bone marrow transplant? Learn the answers to those questions and more with ESPN's "50 facts you didn't know" about prospects in the upcoming draft.

One thing about this year's "virtual" NFL Draft that isn't changing is that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will be booed by fans. Bud Light, apparently, is making sure of that.

The Unclassifieds

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