Round 1, Pick 1: Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson
With the first of their two picks in the first round, the Raiders go to a school they’re really familiar with — Clemson. Last season, they took Clelin Ferrell, Trayvon Mullen, and Hunter Renfrow from this program and they were rewarded with solid play — although Ferrell did have some struggles as a rookie, which isn’t surprising given the difficulty involved at learning the edge at the pro level.
This time, they decide to grab Isaiah Simmons, who is a hybrid linebacker-safety combo for Clemson. In the NFL, he projects best as a linebacker and will be great when it comes to coverage, and he shined ya man coverage while in school. At 6-4 and 230-pounds, he’s got the size to play any position on the linebacking corps, so it’s really up to the Raiders if they want him at SAM, MIKE, or WILL.
Simmons can even be used to blitz the quarterback, something he did effectively for the Tigers. What helps him in this regard, and in shedding blocks in general, is his giant wingspan. He has arms with similar length to a defensive end, which can help him fight blockers but also interrupt the pass when in coverage.
The best season Simmons had for Clemson came in his final year. He recorded 97 tackles and three interceptions, and seven sacks — all career highs. The Raiders defense will be vastly improved landing a playmaker such as Simmons.