Back in April, the Arizona Cardinals made Clemson hybrid defender Isaiah Simmons the No. 8 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. The Cardinals have a history of using players in multiple, versatile roles on defense, so it was a pick that seemingly made a bunch of sense -- especially because the Cardinals arguably had a need for players in each of the roles Simmons can fill: off-ball linebacker, slot corner, safety, and edge rusher.
Ten weeks into the season, though, Simmons has been used sparingly. He's played only 147 snaps in Arizona's nine games, 17th among Cardinals defenders. He's spent 70 snaps as a box safety, 37 as an edge rusher, 29 as a slot corner, seven as a wide corner, and four as a free safety, per Pro Football Focus.
Heading into their Week 11 Thursday night showdown with the division rival Seahawks, though, defensive coordinator Vance Joseph is ready to expand Simmons' role.
"To his credit, he's been patient," Joseph said, per the team's official website. "He's been frustrated, but he's been patient and waiting his turn, learning and working in practice. It's showing in the games. We've got to play him more, because he can help us win, and that's what we want from Isaiah. He's been patient enough to wait his turn, but it's time."
Simmons played only five defensive snaps in the first matchup between these two teams, but he made a big impact by intercepting Russell Wilson in overtime to set up Arizona's game-winning score. In each the Cardinals' two games since then, he has exceeded a 40 percent snap share, the first two times he has done so all year.
"The confidence has come out," Joseph said. "You watch him play now and he knows what to do. He's sure. Now you see the speed, the length. You see why Steve Keim drafted this guy in the top-10. Before that, you saw a guy who was uncertain and wasn't sure that he knew what to do, so he couldn't play fast."
With the Seahawks able to test defenses all over the field due to Wilson's dual-threat ability and the presence of both Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf, having a versatile defender like Simmons play multiple can make it easier to disrupt multiple areas of the field. Considering the Cardinals allowed 34 points the last time these two teams took the field, they might need it.