So, it was Isaiah Simmons after all.
One thing that struck me Thursday night, once the Cardinals indeed were left with one of the top three defensive playmakers and snared Simmons was that the top eight -- as broken down and analyzed over and over and over these past few months -- ended up pretty much how everyone expected. That's rare. Joe Burrow-Chase Young-Jeff Okudah 1-2-3. An offensive lineman for the Giants. Tua and Hebert for the Dolphins and Chargers. Derrick Brown to the Panthers. I think you could find that as a top 7 mock often right after the Scouting combine. For a while it seemed in the process Simmons would never drop to Arizona, but then he did -- just like it seemed he would over these last couple of weeks.
Simmons, as he said at the Scouting combine, said one of the players he patterns his game after is Tyrann Mathieu, and I too like the comparison, at least in terms of versatility. Obviously, Honey Badger is 5-10 and Simmons is 6-4 and they are not the same. But as a chess piece for defensive coordinator Vance Joseph? Something similar.
-- During Keim's appearance on the "Cardinals Draft Connection" livestream show, it was interesting that he drew a comparison between Simmons and Chicago Bears great Brian Urlacher, who also played both linebacker and (mostly) safety in college. Simmons is 6-4, 238. Urlacher was 6-4, and weighed 238 in college. (Urlacher did put on 20 pounds prior to the draft, while Simmons is likely going to stay streamlined for now.)
"The only guy I could think of, with similarities, was Brian Urlacher when he came out," Keim said. "He was a safety at New Mexico, for the most part ... not quite as fast, but a guy who became a great player and who made that ascension to playing more in the box. He was the one guy who I'd say, if there was any kind of comp and you could make a projection, it'd be Brian Urlacher."
-- Clearly, Keim sees Simmons as the solution to the tight end coverage issues. "I told Vance if we can't cover tight ends this year, it's on him," Keim quipped.
-- The Cardinals have long had a good relationship with Clemson and coach Dabo Sweeney. Part of that is that Clemson offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell was Keim's offensive line coach when Keim played at North Carolina State. That means the Cards feel pretty comfortable they will know what they need to know about players from that program. Keim raved about Simmons as a person and a player. That's natural during the draft, but Keim and the Cardinals are happy this is how this turned out.
-- Simmons has already played at State Farm Stadium. Clemson beat Ohio State there in the Fiesta Bowl in late December in an NCAA playoff semifinal.
-- Barring a trade, the Cardinals will have only one pick Friday. Their third-round selection is No. 72 overall. The Cards dealt their second-round pick to Houston in the DeAndre Hopkins trade. I'm thinking the Cards are cool with that. They have four picks slated for Saturday: Two fourth-round picks, one in the sixth, one in the seventh.