Isaiah Simmons

NFC West Notes: Dorsett, Simmons, 49ers

Phillip Dorsett signed with the Seahawks earlier this offseason, but it sounds like the wideout regrets not joining the organization sooner.

“I could have went a lot of different places but I just felt like this was the right fit,” Dorsett told reporters (via Curtis Crabtree of ProFootballTalk.com). “I felt like it was one year – not too late because I could have come last year and I chose to stay in New England, but I didn’t want to make that mistake again.”

The former Patriots receiver made two trips to the Super Bowl (including a victory in Super Bowl LIII) during his time in New England. However, he struggled to climb the depth chart, as he hauled in only 73 total receptions for 881 yards and eight touchdowns in 45 games for the Patriots.

“I’m not going to say it’s not any fun. Because at the end of the day, I went to two Super Bowls and won one. So you can’t say there’s no fun in that. There is fun in that,” Dorsett said. “But at the end of the day when you’re at practice, it’s all business. When you’re in the meeting rooms, it’s all business. When you’re on the practice field or the game field, it’s all business. But I met some amazing people there. Amazing teammates, media, equipment managers, coaches. I had a great experience there. And I was just ready for the next step, you know, I’m blessed to be here. I can’t wait to get going. And I’m just thankful.”

Let’s check out some more notes from around the NFC West…

  • While Clemson may have capitalized on Isaiah Simmons’ versatility, it sounds like the Cardinals have other plans. Head coach Kliff Kingsbury will allow the eighth-overall pick to solely focus on one position. “His ability to play so many positions and not really having a chance to focus on one, we just think the sky could be the limit for what he can be if we really lock him in one position for the majority of the time,” Kingsbury said (via Josh Alper of ProFootballTalk.com). Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph previously hinted that Simmons could end up spending most of his time at linebacker.
  • Retired 49ers offensive lineman Joe Staley will count $2MM against the cap next season, observes Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area. The veteran was set to earn more than $10MM in salary and bonuses before the 49ers released him with an injury settlement. Staley will get $1MM via that transaction, and he’ll receive another $1MM stemming from the contract extension he signed last offseason.
  • We learned yesterday that the Seahawks don’t seem interested in re-signing Jadeveon Clowney, and it could be a while before the edge rusher joins any NFL team

NFC West Notes: Cardinals, Seahawks, 49ers

The Cardinals used their first-round pick on Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons, widely regarded as one of the more versatile draft prospects in recent memory. Arizona defensive coordinator Vance Joseph told the media Tuesday that Simmons would primarily be a linebacker in the NFL, but that overall he’d be a “problem-solver” for the defense, via Darren Urban of the team’s official site.

Urban notes that Joseph said while he might not be able to do all the things he did in college, he still wants “Isaiah to be Isaiah.” Simmons played safety, corner, and linebacker at Clemson. “”If it’s a job that we think he can do, we will put him out there,” Joseph said. That echoes what Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury has said since the draft, and it sounds like the team still isn’t sure exactly how they’re going to use him.

  • Speaking of Cardinals linebackers, they also signed De’Vondre Campbell to a one-year deal worth up to $8.5MM this offseason. In his comments to the media Joseph revealed that Campbell was the team’s top free agent target, but they initially didn’t think they would be able to get him because of his price. Eventually, Campbell lowered what he was asking for in exchange for a one-year deal. A 2016 fourth-round pick, Campbell spent the past four years as a starter with the Falcons. Along with Simmons, Arizona is counting on him to help revamp one of the league’s worst units.
  • The Seahawks did some shuffling on their offensive line the past couple days, releasing veteran interior linemen D.J. Fluker and Justin Britt. Turns out, Britt was released with a failed physical designation, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets. It’s not shocking considering Britt’s 2019 season ended back in October with a torn ACL. As Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times tweets, this could reduce the cap space Seattle gains a bit since they’ll have to pay him a settlement if he doesn’t sign with another team in 2020. Condotta also notes that it’s one reason the release took a while. Still, we’ve heard Britt hasn’t suffered any setbacks with his knee, so the proven starter should land on his feet with a new team at some point.
  • Longtime 49ers left tackle Joe Staley recently decided to hang up his cleats, and the team acquired Trent Williams as a short-term replacement. They’ve indicated they won’t be ironing out an extension with Williams any time soon, and it’s highly possible he’s a one-year rental. That would leave them in need of another successor, and one potential option could be right tackle Mike McGlinchey. However, the 2018 first-round pick said he has no idea if he’ll ever become a left tackle and that he feels very comfortable on the right side, via Matt Maiocco of NBCSports.com (Twitter link). This echoes what we heard back in March when Staley was still mulling retirement, and it doesn’t sound like the team has any plans to move the Notre Dame product.

Draft Rumors: Chaisson, Titans, Raiders

While they have been rumored to be deciding on a left tackle or Isaiah Simmons, the Giants are now being connected to another name at No. 4. Strong buzz has emerged on the Giants liking LSU edge rusher K’Lavon Chaisson, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports notes. Chaisson has not been mentioned as a top-five candidate previously, and La Canfora still mocks Tristan Wirfs to New York. But with Dave Gettleman shocking most by drafting Daniel Jones at No. 6 last year, an off-the-board pick should not be ruled out. The Giants are fairly desperate for edge rushers, having traded away Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon in consecutive offseasons and having not re-signed 2019 sack leader Markus Golden.

Here is the latest from the draft world, with less than five hours remaining until showtime:

  • Simmons’ versatility may be working against him in some circles. The do-it-all Clemson linebacker may be dropping, with Albert Breer of SI.com writing that teams’ issues with Simmons’ potential fit could well result in him tumbling Thursday night. Noting that a team needs a detailed plan to get the most out of Simmons, Breer does not expect him to go in the top seven.
  • Having lost Jack Conklin hours into free agency, the Titans have done a lot of work on offensive linemen in this year’s class, La Canfora adds. Ezra Cleveland‘s rise may play him out of Tennessee’s range (No. 29) at this point, but La Canfora points out the Titans are high on Louisiana tackle Robert Hunt as well.
  • Despite their 14-2 season, the Ravens did not fully replace C.J. Mosley. They have since lost inside linebacker Patrick Onwuasor. They may be in the hunt to fortify that spot tonight. The Ravens have been calling around on linebackers, Breer adds, potentially for a trade-up to land one of this draft’s best. Mel Kiper’s most recent mock draft has Baltimore taking LSU’s Patrick Queen at No. 28, with Oklahoma’s Kenneth Murray going ahead of him. But the Ravens may want to make sure they are in position to land one of these two players by moving up.
  • A footnote in the Raiders‘ blockbuster Khalil Mack trade: they lost their 2020 second-round pick. The team holds two first-round picks but “would love” to drop into Round 2 and stockpile draft capital in doing so, Breer notes.
  • The 49ers have engaged in conversations regarding potential trades of both their first-rounders — Nos. 13 and 31 — but Breer hears San Francisco would prefer to move down from 31 instead of 13. With the higher pick, the 49ers have been linked to top wide receivers. They have visited with CeeDee Lamb and are believed to be interested in Henry Ruggs.

Poll: What Will Giants Do At No. 4?

While the variance in this draft’s top three picks may be low, the Giants could go in a number of directions at No. 4 overall. They have been connected to several different strategies.

Picking in the top six for the third straight year (after never landing there from 2005-17), Big Blue has needs at a few places. The Giants could use help on the offensive line and at outside linebacker and safety. Based on the organization’s history and Dave Gettleman‘s impossible-sounding track record featuring zero trade-down maneuvers in seven drafts as either the Panthers or Giants GM, the Giants would be expected to hold their pick at No. 4. But noise about the team moving down has emerged.

Gettleman said this week he is seriously entertaining the prospect of moving down — something he did not strongly consider the past two years when the Giants took Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones. The Giants may be going as far as planting a seed about Justin Herbert interest. Gettleman was believed to be higher on Herbert than Jones last year. But with only two teams in the past 38 drafts using back-to-back first-round picks on quarterbacks — the 1982-83 Baltimore Colts and the Cardinals in the past two years — teams do not appear to be buying this.

With Chase Young a lock to be off the board by No. 4 and the Giants not expected to take a cornerback that high, they may be down to tackle or Clemson do-everything defender Isaiah Simmons. The Giants have not gotten what they paid for in Nate Solder and signed stopgap right tackle Cameron Fleming. The latter, however, could be used as a swing man — as he was in New England and Dallas — to open the door for a rookie to start at right tackle.

Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs has been linked to the Giants for several weeks. However, Georgia’s Andrew Thomas, massive Louisville blocker Mekhi Becton and Alabama’s Jedrick Wills loom as possibilities as well.

The Giants are evaluating Simmons’ fit. He played everywhere from off-ball linebacker to safety to edge rusher to slot cornerback at Clemson. That kind of rare versatility prompted ESPN.com’s Jeff Legwold to label him the draft’s top prospect.

While Simmons could help the Giants in multiple areas, Gettleman has preached offensive line development since arriving in December 2017. They also would be in a better position to address their edge rusher need with more picks, hence the greater interest in trading down.

So where what will the Giants end up doing at No. 4 overall? Vote in PFR’s latest poll (link for app users) and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

East Notes: Giants, Love, Cowboys

Holding a top-six pick for the third straight year, the Giants have been linked to either Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons or a tackle. The Giants are immersed in thorough examination of Simmons, with Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports noting the team is determining how he would fit in its scheme. Simmons saw action all over the formation for the Tigers but is viewed as either a linebacker or safety in the NFL. Some teams view Simmons as a safety. It is unclear where the Giants place him, though Joe Judge comes from a Patriots organization that valued versatility among defenders.

Regardless, rival GMs expect Dave Gettleman to select a tackle at No. 4 overall. Gettleman’s offensive line overhaul has not accomplished what he’d hoped, and a first-round pick could be slotted at right tackle before taking over for 2021 cap-casualty candidate Nate Solder on the left side. The Giants have been connected to Iowa tackle Tristan Wirfs at multiple junctures this offseason.

Here is the latest from the East divisions:

  • Gettleman has taken his share of heat since becoming Giants GM in December 2017. He has, however, made some philosophical changes since taking over. He admitted to have miscalculated the Giants’ ability to be competitive in his first season as GM, per Paul Schwartz of the New York Post. From October 2018 to March 2019, Gettleman traded big-ticket free agent additions Damon Harrison and Olivier Vernon while also dealing Odell Beckham Jr. and Eli Apple. In addition to accepting this is a rebuild, Gettleman is now OK with negotiating contracts in-season, Schwartz adds.
  • Were the Lions to trade out of the No. 3 slot or pass on Jeffrey Okudah, the Giants may still pass on the Ohio State cornerback. Given the Giants’ 2019 first-round selection of Deandre Baker and their recent James Bradberry deal, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY would expect them to avoid picking a corner fourth overall.
  • A bold Dolphins strategy would be passing on a quarterback at No. 5 and preparing a Jordan Love move later in the first round. Other teams are convinced the Dolphins are intrigued by the Utah State prospect — whom Miami secured a visit with before the NFL shut down that process — but doubt they will gamble to that degree, La Canfora notes. The Dolphins’ actions over the past year and change have been centered around landing their franchise quarterback in this draft. Although they hold the Nos. 18 and 26 picks, it would be a risk to let Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert go in hopes of landing Love later.
  • The NFL’s decisions on Randy Gregory and Aldon Smith are not expected to come until after the draft, but the Cowboys may have some different plans for them under DC Mike Nolan than they would have under Rod Marinelli. Instead of using their edge defenders as pure 4-3 defensive ends, Cowboys executive VP Stephen Jones said (via USA Today’s Jori Epstein) he could envision Smith and Gregory as hybrid-type players who rush from linebacker positions as well as defensive end slots. Gregory has only played defensive end as a pro, while Smith has mostly worked as a 3-4 outside linebacker.

Lions Split On Decision At No. 3 Overall?

A few options will be in play for the Lions at No. 3 overall. Despite their video chats with Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert, one of them does not appear to include using their top pick on a quarterback. But a few other avenues are open.

The Lions are torn between a possible best-player-available pick with Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah and bolstering their front seven by taking Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown or Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports notes.

Earlier this month, Okudah appeared to be Detroit’s preference in the expected event that Washington drafts Chase Young at No. 2. The Lions traded Darius Slay and added Desmond Trufant at corner. However, Detroit ranked 29th in DVOA pass defense with Slay in the fold. Okudah would make sense here — if the Lions do not trade down. That course of action looks to be the way the Lions hope to go, La Canfora adds.

Detroit has engaged in trade-down discussions, and those conversations produced some interest. The Lions, though, are not interested in moving down too far. They would like to add draft capital but still come away with a blue-chip defensive talent, JLC adds. The Lions already have nine picks in this draft, however. Only seven teams possess more.

If the Lions do trade down, they would like to have a deal in place by Thursday afternoon, Bob Quinn said (via the Detroit Free Press’ Dave Birkett, on Twitter). They do not want to make the decision to move down while on the clock in this virtual draft. Quinn confirmed he’s discussed trading down and noted the talks will pick up next week.

The Lions recently added ex-Patriots Jamie Collins and Danny Shelton at the respective positions Simmons and Brown play. The franchise has chosen an offensive player with five of its past six first-round picks, with linebacker Jarrad Davis (2017) being the only break in that trend. They have not taken a defensive tackle in Round 1 since selecting Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley in 2010 and ’11, respectively.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Draft Notes: Shenault, Wirfs, Simmons

After undergoing core muscle surgery earlier this year, Colorado wideout Laviska Shenault Jr. is almost fully recovered. In a letter sent to all 32 NFL teams, Dr. William Meyers stated that the receiver will be back to 100% by next week.

“I watched Laviska go through regular football drills yesterday at 5 1/2 weeks postop and he looked terrific,” the doctor stated (via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport on Twitter). “I believe by April 25, 2020, he will be at 100% for full football activities.”

The receiver decided to undergo surgery following an underwhelming 40-yard dash time. Shenault went under the knife in early March, and recovery was expected to take at least one month.

The 6-foot-1, 227-pound wideout has been on the draft radar for a while, beginning with a 1,011-yard, nine-touchdown 2018 sophomore season. His stats dropped a bit in 2019, but the receiver could still be taken towards the end of the first round.

Let’s check out some more draft notes…

  • The Giants are among the teams in the top-10 that have done extensive research on Iowa offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs, reports ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler (via Twitter). Wirfs seems like a logical target for New York if they end up trading back, but Fowler hints that the Giants could also simply take the lineman with the fourth-overall pick. We previously heard that Dave Gettleman “loves” the 6-5, 322-pound lineman. Our own Zach Links profiled Wirfs earlier this week.
  • Isaiah Simmons made his name as a linebacker at Clemson, but many teams have told Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link) that they see his future at the safety position. Simmons certainly has the versatility, as he played both positions (along with defensive end and cornerback) during his time in college. Simmons finished last season with 67 tackles, seven sacks, and three interceptions, and there’s a good chance he’ll be a top-10 pick in next week’s draft.
  • The Colts may target a signal caller in the draft, but GM Chris Ballard says he won’t “force the quarterback position,” (Twitter link Joel A. Erickson of the Indianapolis Star). “It’s got to be the right guy, the right fit,” Ballard continued. “I don’t know when that’s going to happen. Maybe this year, maybe next year, maybe two years from now.” The Colts inked veteran Philip Rivers to a one-year contract this past offseason, and they’re still rostering Jacoby Brissett.

NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Isaiah Simmons

There’s little doubt that Isaiah Simmons will hear his name called early in the NFL Draft. His pro position, however, remains in question. At 6’4″ and 230 pounds, the Clemson standout has the size and skillset to make it at linebacker. Meanwhile, he’s also got the chops to play safety and handle the slot. No one’s quite sure how Simmons will be used at the next level, but that’s not a bad thing.

[RELATED: Jeff Okudah’s NFL Draft Profile]

Used sparingly in two frosh seasons, Simmons broke out as a sophomore in 2018 with 88 stops, including nine tackles for a loss and two sacks. Things only picked up from there – Simmons managed 104 tackles, 16.5 tackles for a loss, eight sacks, and three interceptions as a junior en route being named the nation’s best linebacker. With freakish athleticism for his size, NFL Draft guru Matt Miller went outside of the sport to find a proper comp for the underclassman.

Can I compare Isaiah Simmons to Zion Williamson?,” Miller tweeted. “Just too big, fast, smart, and athletic for anyone to handle.”

Joe Burrow is considered to be a shoe-in for the Bengals’ No. 1 overall pick. The Redskins, at No. 2, would shock the world by drafting anyone other than Ohio State star Chase Young at No. 2. After that, could it be Simmons’ turn to take center stage (er, monitor screen)?

The Lions don’t seem terribly interested in him, but they do seem to be leaning towards a trade back from No. 3. The team moving up could be in the market for a QB – perhaps Tua Tagovailoa – but don’t discount the possibility of Simmons. After posting a 4.39 40-yard-dash and 39-inch vertical leap at the combine, there will be plenty of teams tempted to pounce on the Tigers defender.

Even if that doesn’t happen, Simmons won’t have far to fall. If the Giants stand pat at No. 4 and Dave Gettleman can resist a “hog mollie” like Jedrick Wills Jr., Mekhi Becton, or Tristan Wirfs, they could add Simmons to a revamped front seven alongside Blake Martinez. The Dolphins (No. 5) are laser-focused on finding their quarterback of the future in the early stages, but there aren’t many other clubs that could be ruled out for the versatile wonder. Simmons’ ceiling is sky-high and so is his draft floor.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Draft Notes: Bengals, Burrow, Redskins, Giants, Dolphins, Jets

Sports leagues across the world are shutdown due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and the next big event for most fans to tune into is the NFL draft. The league is hoping the draft can serve as a welcomed distraction for the country, and we’ve got a fresh batch of notes on what’s happening from Matt Miller of Bleacher Report. It’s been assumed for a while now that the Bengals will be taking Joe Burrow with the first overall pick, but that apparently isn’t set in stone.

While the expectation is still that Burrow is the pick, there is “a lot of buzz in scouting circles that the Bengals will at least listen to calls” on potential trades for the top choice, Miller writes. Since there’s no one ahead of them, it wouldn’t make all that much sense for the Bengals to be playing games if they weren’t actually planning to listen to inquiries. As of a couple of weeks ago we had heard that the Dolphins were still interested in trading for the first pick and selecting Burrow.

Here’s more on the draft, which will now be held remotely:

  • New Redskins coach Ron Rivera has said ever since he took the position that Dwayne Haskins won’t just be handed the starting quarterback job and will need to compete. That has led to some rumblings that Washington could use the second overall pick on a quarterback, but that looks like it was all bluster. Sources told Miller that the Redskins are not considering using the pick on a passer, and it continues to look like Ohio State defensive end Chase Young will be the pick.
  • The Giants are in an interesting spot with the fourth pick, and Miller writes that he’s heard talk out of New York that the team loves Clemson do-it-all linebacker Isaiah Simmons. While Miller has made Simmons the pick in his latest mock draft, he notes there has been “quiet buzz building for Iowa offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs with the fourth overall pick. The Giants could certainly use an offensive tackle as well as Simmons’ versatility on defense, so either pick would make sense.
  • Speaking of the Dolphins, if they aren’t able to pull off the shocking trade up for Burrow, their situation is pretty up in the air. Although there has been a ton of talk over the last year linking Miami to Alabama signal-caller Tua Tagovailoa, multiple sources told Miller the team isn’t “convinced Tua is the best option and could instead target Oregon’s Justin Herbert.” In fact, the “buzz around the league is that Herbert has the most fans in the Dolphins’ draft room,” Miller writes. This echoes what Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald wrote back in February, when he reported that Miami had an “increasingly positive” view of Herbert and that the Dolphins were concerned about Tagovailoa’s hip as well as his long-term durability.
  • The Jets lost Robby Anderson in free agency and didn’t do much to replace him or add receiving help outside of signing Breshad Perriman. They could certainly use another wideout and while the sources Miller talked to still expected the Jets to take an offensive tackle with the 11th overall pick, he also learned that the team is very high on Oklahoma receiver CeeDee Lamb. Lamb put up ridiculous numbers with the Sooners last year, racking up 1,327 yards and 14 touchdowns in 13 games.

NFC North Notes: Lions, Okudah, Foles

The Lions will have a major impact on how the quarterback dominoes fall in this year’s draft. Although they are unlikely to select a rookie signal-caller themselves with the No. 3 overall pick, they have long been rumored as a team that could trade down with another club that has a bigger QB need. And if standout Ohio State pass rusher Chase Young is off the board by the time Detroit is on the clock, Albert Breer of SI.com says the Lions will indeed be open for business, as they could move down to the No. 5 or No. 6 pick and still pick up an elite defender like Jeff OkudahIsaiah Simmons, or Derrick Brown.

However, both Breer and Justin Rogers of the Detroit News believe the Lions’ preference among the non-Young defenders is Okudah, who may be gone if Detroit trades back, and Rogers does not see an immediate fit for Simmons in the club’s defense. So unless the Lions are blown away by an offer, they could stand pat and select one of Young or Okudah.

Now for more from the NFC North:

  • New Bears quarterback Nick Foles restructured his contract after being traded to Chicago from Jacksonville, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com passes along a few more details on the restructure (Twitter link). Foles will earn $8MM in base salary over each of the three remaining years on his contract for a total of $24MM in salary, $21MM of which is guaranteed. Each of those three seasons also comes with an additional $6MM in available incentives, and for every dollar of incentives that Foles earns, his base salary for the following year increases (so if he earns $3MM of incentives in 2020, his salary in 2021 will increase from $8MM to $11MM).
  • As we heard previously, Foles will have the opportunity to void the 2021 or 2022 seasons if he meets certain performance thresholds, so as Rapoport notes in a separate tweet, the former Super Bowl MVP has landed jelly-side up despite a disappointing 2019 season with the Jags. He was paid $30MM for his one year in Jacksonville, keeps the guaranteed money from his Jaguars contract, and has the opportunity to hit free agency as soon as next year if he performs well with the Bears.
  • The Vikings have managed to carve out some salary cap space for themselves this offseason, and after setting aside the funds necessary to sign their 2020 draft class, they have about $8.4MM of space still available, per Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (via Twitter). Tomasson says that the team is continuing to look at veteran cornerbacks, which makes sense given the mass CB exodus that Minnesota witnessed last month. Dre Kirkpatrick and Logan Ryan are among the top corners still available.
  • Tomasson adds that the Vikings are still looking into a Dalvin Cook extension, which echoes his report from several weeks ago.