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Is Clemson LB Isaiah Simmons a better fit for a 3-4 or a 4-3 defense?

Last week, veteran NFL and college scout Chris Landry of LandryFootball.com talked to Fanspeak about why draft boards can be so drastically different from team to team.

One of the big reasons, he said, is schematic fit.

“There is no such thing as a universal draft board of who’s best at each position,” Landry said. “It depends on scheme and each individual team’s critical factors.”

And therein lies the challenge scouts face with Clemson linebacker/safety Isaiah Simmons.

No one doubts Simmons’ athletic ability, as he’s considered an elite prospect in the 2020 NFL draft. He’s also got the size (6-foot-4, 230 pounds) teams covet. And he was used all over the field for Clemson, starting out as a safety before moving to a hybrid linebacker role, where he did everything from covering tight ends to rushing the passer.

But, according to Charlie Campbell of WalterFootball.com, scouts view Simmons as a better fit for a 4-3 defense than teams that operate out of a 3-4 alignment.

From Campbell’s latest NFL Hot Press Report:

“(Teams that run a 3-4 defense) have concerns about Simmons holding up on the inside in that scheme, and as a result, they see some limitations on how he would be used. Hence, they have some reservations about how high he can be placed on their boards. Other teams that run a 4-3 scheme see him as a Will linebacker and superb sub-package player.”

The report said team sources’ draft range on Simmons has him going anywhere from top 10 to top-20, adding that if Simmons were to fall in the draft, it would solely be because of scheme-fit questions.

“Isaiah Simmons is a tricky dude to do, and honestly, he’s been my toughest report this year,” one national scout whose team runs a 3-4 defense said, via the report. “There are some mixed reviews on him. He’s a super-elite sub-package guy; he doesn’t have a home in other sets. He’s too tight in the hips to play safety. In a 4-3, he’s a Will. In a 3-4, he’s not a Mo. He’s really like an elite nickel linebacker type. In some ways, he reminds me of Haason Reddick.”

Simmons is currently ranked as the No. 4 overall prospect in the latest Fanspeak-Steve big board.

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