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Carolina Panthers land replacement for Luke Kuechly in Pro Football Focus’ mock draft 2.0

Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons can be the Panthers new difference maker on defense.

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College Football Playoff National Championship - Clemson v LSU Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Pro Football Focus has released their second mock draft, and this time a multi-talented defender from Clemson stays in the Carolinas.

PFF 2020 NFL Two-Round Mock Draft: Dolphins trade up to take Tua Tagovailoa

7. Carolina Panthers — Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson

Simmons is just the athletic freak who can fill the big shoes left by Luke Kuechly’s retirement. In his three seasons at Clemson, Simmons had coverage grades of 76.1, 90.0, and 88.2.

Simmons is a different kind of player than Kuechly though I feel he can replace the role Kuechly played on the defense as leader and big time play maker. Simmons has position flexibility that is rare in the NFL. Simmons played in five different positions on defense last season:

Slot cornerback: 253 snaps
Safety: 166 snaps
Outside linebacker: 132 snaps
Inside linebacker: 72 snaps
Outside cornerback: 12 snaps

Here’s an article discussing how that versatility can be used to render a quarterback’s first read useless.

2020 NFL Draft: Why Clemson's Isaiah Simmons is the ultimate chess piece that the Giants and Lions are missing -

Finally, Isaiah Simmons walks onto the field. The quarterback has no idea what he will do on any given play. He could line up as a single high safety and later crash the backfield because of his speed. He could line up off-ball, drop into coverage and take away half the field. On one particular play, he lines up in the box. The quarterback reads run support or maybe blitz. The snap, Simmons suddenly bolts back into coverage. Now, the quarterback's first read is gone. He frantically starts working through his progressions, which only gives Miller more time to get home for a sack. That's just one example of how the Kansas native impacts play.

The ability to cover any player going across the middle of the field has to be a coveted skill. I bet the Panthers would run to the podium if Simmons is still there. Check out this highlight film and see for yourself. The film starts a little slow but then moves a little quicker. It’s nine minutes long showing there is no shortage of content on the star.

If the Panthers stay in a 3-4 defense, then Simmons is a big safety in the mold of Cam Chancellor. I prefer a move back to the 4-3 myself. That would also allow Simmons to pair up with Shaq Thompson for a very fast nickel defense. In a base defense Thompson plays the middle, Simmons plays the weak side and then we see if Jermaine Carter or Andre Smith is ready to start on the strong side.


How would you react to the Panthers drafting Isaiah Simmons at No. 7 overall?

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  • 41%
    Jump for joy
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  • 48%
    Nod of approval with a touch of cautious optimism
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    Gag reflex
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