Going into the 2020 NFL Draft, Isaiah Simmons was considered one of the top overall prospects, as his potential positional versatility and eye-popping athleticism coming out of Clemson made him a target of just about every NFL team holding a first-round draft pick.
Simmons was selected No. 8 overall by the Arizona Cardinals, and made his NFL debut in Week 1 at Levi’s Stadium against the 49ers. Although he was in for just 18 defensive snaps, Simmons allowed three catches for 86 yards and surrendered two touchdowns in coverage.
Steven Ruiz of For The Win did a great job compiling all of the clips showcasing how Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers seemed to target Simmons, taking advantage of his difficulty covering fullback Kyle Juszczyk and tight end George Kittle in space.
Jimmy Garoppolo produced a perfect passer rating when throwing against Simmons in coverage according to Pro Football Focus, and exploited his matchup with Raheem Mostert for the 49ers’ first touchdown in the first quarter.
Later, in the fourth quarter, a quick snap from Garoppolo forced Simmons to make a quick decision about who to cover, leaving Jerick McKinnon all alone with only green grass in front of him.
All in all, not the way Simmons likely envisioned his NFL debut playing out. But Shanahan is known for diligently studying opponents and identifying potential mismatches.
The talent of the rookie is undeniable, and Simmons will learn from this experience and come in motivated when the two teams meet up once again in Week 16 from Arizona.