Coming off a disappointing loss to the Detroit Lions in Week 3, the Arizona Cardinals are also dealing with some injury issues on defense. Specifically, at safety, where Budda Baker is expected to undergo surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his thumb and Chris Banjo is dealing with a hamstring injury suffered during the loss. In the wake of these injuries, the Cards are considering using first-round pick Isaiah Simmons at safety, coach Kliff Kingsbury said.
Simmons was announced as a linebacker at the draft, but his primary calling card as a college player was his versatility. According to Pro Football Focus, Simmons hardly lined up as a traditional linebacker at all during his final season at Clemson. PFF tracked him as playing 299 snaps as a box safety/striker, 262 as a slot corner, 132 as a free safety, and 116 as an edge rusher.
In his first three games with the Cardinals, Simmons has been used sparingly, playing only 35 defensive snaps -- 15 in the box, seven in the slot, three out wide, and 10 on the edge. Some of that is likely due to his inexperience. Some of it is likely due to his being roasted by 49ers running back Raheem Mostert on a 76-yard catch-and-run early in the first quarter of Week 1.
Either way, it appears the Cardinals are preparing to ask a bit more of Simmons very soon. With the defense off to a rocky start, this would be a good time for him to start contributing at the high level he did with Clemson. Otherwise, they may have to look into other potential fixes at safety, potentially including Tony Jefferson, who is rumored to be coming in for a visit and/or workout, though Kingsbury would not confirm the latter.