Sports Info Solutions (SIS) brings you the second annual edition of The SIS Football Rookie Handbook, with scouting reports and statistical breakdowns on over 280 college football players who are likely to be drafted or signed as rookie free agents in 2020 (a glossary for the below stats can be found here). New features for this year include unique and informative NFL team pages, research deep-dives by the SIS R&D team, and—for the first time ever—the NCAA version of their flagship football statistic, Total Points

Continuing our position-by-position preview of this year’s draft class, we shift our focus to will linebackers. As a scouting staff, we use common terminology to grade every trait that we evaluate. We use a 1-9 scale with a 1 representing a “Reject” grade and a 9 meaning a “Rare” grade for whatever trait we are evaluating. We spend a lot of time in our internal Scout School making sure that our scales are calibrated with one another, and this common scale and set of language is a key aspect to ensuring that our evaluations are consistent (that…and cross-checks).

Additionally, for each position in the book, there are positional grading scales. As opposed to grading traits, these scales apply to stacking the final grades for each prospect. The final will linebacker scale is as follows:

9.0 – 7.0High-end 3 down starter. Pro Bowl level.
6.9 – 6.7Strong starter who plays on all 3 downs.
6.6 – 6.5Low-end starter. 3rd down coverage LB.
6.2Versatile backup with positional flexibility.
6.1 – 6.0Developmental. Top traits but needs time.
5.9Top backup. 3rd LB. Quality special teamer.
5.8Average backup. 4th LB. Quality special teamer.
5.7Low-end backup LB with growable upside.

Isaiah Simmons: WLB Rank 1 of 15 | Final Grade: 6.9

Report by Jordan Edwards

One Liner 

Simmons is a freak athlete whose versatility, range, and play speed will allow him to start on all three downs, although he’ll need to improve his man coverage ability and instincts in the passing game to take his skills to the next level.


Simmons is a versatile defender for the Clemson Tigers in their base Cover 4 defense, lining up as a big nickel linebacker, strong safety, and free safety. He played in 44 games, starting in 21 of them. He competed for the Clemson track team his freshman year. He is a freak athlete at his size with great speed and agility. He has long arms and is a long strider in the open field. He’s a tough competitor and a playmaker on the defensive side of the ball.

Run Game 

Simmons excels playing at the LOS against the run. He shows the ability to set the edge and take on blocks at the point of attack. His excellent range allows him to scrape well and chase down ball carriers with good pursuit. He is a productive tackler and can make difficult tackles seem easy. Simmons comes downhill as a violent tackler, but he will lower his head at times before contact and be susceptible to missed tackles. He uses his hands well when taking on blocks and can maneuver through the trash between the tackles. He has good awareness and makes plays on the ball while tackling ball carriers.

Pass Game 

Against the pass, Simmons’ athleticism allows him to match up well with TEs and RBs. His instincts and recognition in coverage can be slow at times, but his speed and burst can help him close space in the open field. He has good range in his zone drops and has the ability to play as a deep safety. Simmons shows fluidity in his hips and can turn and run in coverage. His length allows him to defend throws in coverage as well as at the LOS. He has good ball skills, including snagging four interceptions in his career. He showed playmaking ability by returning an interception for a score. Simmons is a productive pass rusher and can blitz from depth with ease. He has good change-of-direction, however, he will overrun ball carriers on occasion. He isn’t the primary signal-caller on defense, but is vocal and communicates on the field pre-snap. He can also be an effective spy at the LOS, neutralizing a QB’s scrambling ability.

Last Word 

Simmons projects to be a starting Will linebacker at the next level, but his versatility will allow him to play a significant number of roles for a defense. He is a 3-down player who can be used effectively in coverage or as a pass rusher. He played on all four core special teams units and should be a core contributor in that area at the next level.

Sideline-to-sideline rangeMan coverage
Impacts all three levelsStoutness in between the tackles
Flies around the fieldInstincts in the passing game

Critical Factors

Pass Coverage6
Play Speed7
FBI / Instincts6

Positional Factors

3-Level Impact7
QB Defense5
Man Coverage5
Zone Coverage6
Shed Ability6
Navigate Trash6
ST Value7


TacklingPass RushCoverage


YearBroken TacklesBT%Tackle ShareATD+PBUDeserved Catch %YACEPAManZoneTotal

Deep Dive

Pass RushMan CoverageZone CoverageTotal Points
YearBlitz%Pres%Sack%Man%Yds/SnapZone%Yds/SnapRun DefPass RushPass CovTotal