Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons is viewed as the best linebacker in the 2020 NFL Draft. The oddsmakers over at William Hill U.S. have created a market that offers bettors the opportunity to wager on which team will draft the coveted game-changer.
The impact of a game-changing linebacker
As scouts and NFL general managers can attest, dominant linebackers have historically proven to be the biggest game-changers on the defensive side of the ball. Football fans have been treated over time to the likes of Dick Butkus, Ray Lewis, Lawrence Taylor, Jack Lambert, Junior Seau, Chuck Bednarik, Ray Nitschke and Derrick Thomas, just to name a few. This year, the best linebacker at the collegiate level was Simmons.
Simmons had 104 tackles, eight sacks, three interceptions, eight pass breakups and 16.5 tackles for loss on his way to winning the Butkus Award as the nation's top linebacker. Simmons checks off all the boxes for what franchises are looking for at the position in today's game with a rare combination of speed, agility, power and toughness.
What kind of “rare speed” exactly? Check out this video and see him stacked up against some of the game's best athletes.
NFL fans have witnessed the emergence of New Orleans Saints “Swiss Army Knife” Taysom Hill (QB, RB, WR) on offense. Simmons could very well develop into that same role on an NFL defense. Simmons has freakish talent that enables him to lineup at linebacker, safety and edge rusher.
The talented linebacker was productive in all those spots at “Death Valley”, easily earning ACC Defensive Player of the Year honors.
New York Giants (+180)
The Giants could have one of the better offenses in 2020 with the healthy return of many star players, but the Big Blue defense still needs serious attention. The Giants allowed the third-most points per game in 2019 (28.2) while surrendering the sixth-highest completion percentage (70.9%) and the fifth-most passing yards (4,376). As Sports Illustrated Giants Maven Patrica Traina highlighted, the Giants have been busy this offseason attempting to reshape a roster that underwhelmed in 2019 (4-12) following a 5-11 campaign in 2018. Adding a player like Simmons, who is built for today's NFL and offers a unique skill set, could improve their defensive woes remarkably.
Carolina Panthers (2/1)
If Simmons fell to the Panthers at pick No. 7 it would instantly transform Matt Rhule’s defense. For a defense that surrendered a league-high 470 points last season, adding a potentially dominant player like Simmons could plug holes on both the second and third levels of their defense.
Detroit Lions (3/1)
Detroit sits with the No. 3 overall pick in the NFL Draft with a huge need in their secondary. The Lions possessed the fourth-worst pass defense in the NFL last season and many mock drafts believe Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah is the player who makes the most sense after they traded Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay to the Philadelphia Eagles. If the Lions choose not to go in that direction, Simmons has been a player rumored to be on their radar (if they didn’t trade back).
Cleveland Browns (20/1)
Would the Browns consider using Kareem Hunt as a trade chip to move up? This rumor has gained some decent steam and, should this trade come to fruition, it would add tremendous value to his UNDER 6.5 overall draft position market. The Browns already have one of the league’s best running backs in Nick Chubb, so they could afford to make the trade dealing from a position of strength. These attractive odds make it a possible worthwhile investment.
Against The Odds:
The Giants last selected a linebacker in the first round of the NFL Draft back in 1984, when they tabbed Carl Banks out of Michigan State. In Simmons, a team would be adding a multi-positional talent that could develop into the new definition of a modern-age defensive weapon. Bettors should also pay attention to the other draft betting market offered by William Hill involving Simmons:
What bettors need to take from this deeper dive, is that Simmons is being projected by oddsmakers to be drafted around the sixth overall pick. As we know, the Giants drafted the best game-changing linebacker in NFL history in Lawrence Taylor with the second overall selection in the 1981 NFL Draft.
I am willing to gamble that Big Blue grabs the dynamic Simmons with visions he becomes the next great Giants linebacker. He has the speed and agility to match up with top-flight tight ends down the seam while picking up running backs out of the backfield. Simmons’ unique ability to also wreck havoc on passing situations as an explosive blitzer off the edge is why I am willing to wager on both of his markets.
The Plays: Giants +180 & UNDER 6.5
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