by CU ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS
CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons (No. 8 overall to the Arizona Cardinals) and cornerback A.J. Terrell (No. 16 overall to the Atlanta Falcons) were both selected in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft on Thursday evening. With their selections, Clemson has now produced multiple first-round picks in back-to-back drafts for the first time in program history.
One year after placing three defensive players in the first 17 selections of the 2019 NFL Draft, Clemson’s multiple selections from its defense in the 2020 NFL Draft made Clemson the only defense in the country to produce multiple first-rounders in each of the last two drafts.
Simmons’ selection by the Cardinals at No. 8 gave Clemson a selection in the first 10 picks in back-to-back drafts for the third time in program history after Clelin Ferrell was selected with the No. 4 overall pick a year ago. Clemson has previously produced Top 10 selections in consecutive drafts in 1982 (Jeff Bryant) and 1983 (Terry Kinard) and 2014 (Sammy Watkins) and 2015 (Vic Beasley).
Terrell became the third-highest cornerback selected in Clemson history, trailing only selections by Donnell Woolford (No. 11 by Chicago in 1989) and Tye Hill (No. 15 by St. Louis in 2006). Terrell, an Atlanta native, becomes the first Clemson player drafted by his home-state team since 2015, when the Falcons took Georgia natives Vic Beasley and Grady Jarrett on Day 1 and Day 3 of the draft, respectively.
The 2020 NFL Draft will resume at 7 p.m. ET on Friday with Rounds 2-3. Notes and comments from Clemson coaches following each selection are available on ClemsonTigers.com Draft Central.
COMMENTS ON SIMMONS
HEAD COACH DABO SWINNEY:
“Isaiah Simmons is as advertised. The reason he has become so intriguing to so many people is because of his versatility. He’s a graduate and he’s incredibly smart from a football standpoint. He played five positions and clearly wanted to execute at different positions for us, which demonstrates his knowledge and his diversity.
But he’s a unicorn. You don’t find guys like him that can play safety, that can cover, that can blitz like a defensive end, and that can play linebacker. He’s a great special teams guy. There’s really nothing he can’t do. The biggest thing I can say about Isaiah is if you get 53 men on a roster, he’s like having 56.”
ASSOCIATE HEAD COACH/DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR/LINEBACKERS COACH BRENT VENABLES:
“The first thing they’re getting is a tremendous teammate and leader. He’s somebody that’s very committed to his craft, somebody that has as much passion for football and being great as anybody that we’ve been around. In regards to his playing ability, he’s a tenacious competitor that hates to lose. He’s incredibly gifted, but his best football is still ahead of him. He’s very dynamic in his skillset and has incredible position flexibility. He’s as impactful as a player that we’ve had at Clemson, and he does that not only through his play on defense but also through his love of special teams.”
COMMENTS ON TERRELL
HEAD COACH DABO SWINNEY:
“A.J. Terrell is the Deshaun Watson of this group, and what I mean by that is he’s a Deshaun Watson at a different position. The reason I say that — and this is what I’ve told everybody — is his consistency. He’s handled himself like a pro since the day he got here as far as his maturity, his love of preparation, his mindset, and the type of teammate he is. He’s got unique intangibles to go along with a rare skillset for his position.”
CORNERBACKS COACH MIKE REED:
“The Falcons are getting a very highly skilled defensive back and a true professional on and off the field. He came in here with a business-like approach on day one. He’s a huge competitor, loves to work, loves to play football, loves to compete. And he ultimately is a great teammate. He is truly a great person, a joy to be around, and he’s going to be a big, integral part of that team.”