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.
Draft notes and comments from Clemson coaches from Day 1 of the 2020 NFL Draft included below.
- Clemson has now produced multiple first-round picks in back-to-back years for the first time in program history. Clemson, Alabama, Ohio State and Oklahoma are the only schools to have produced multiple first-round picks in both the 2019 and 2020 NFL Drafts.
- Clemson produced two Top 16 picks for the third time in school history and the third time in four drafts, joining the 2017 (Mike Williams and Deshaun Watson) and 2019 (Clelin Ferrell, Christian Wilkins) drafts.
- Clemson produced multiple first-round picks on defense for the second year in a row, the only two such instances in school history. Clemson had two offensive players selected in the 1979 and 2017 first rounds, and had one offensive and one defensive player selected in 1982.
- Clemson has now had at least one first-round selection in seven of the last eight NFL Drafts. Clemson is now one of only three schools with at least one first-round pick in at least seven of the last eight drafts, alongside Alabama and Florida.
- Clemson extended its streak of consecutive drafts with at least one selection to 18 since 2003, representing the second-longest streak in school history behind a 24-year streak across the 1951-74 NFL Drafts.
- Became the 58th player to have played for Head Coach Dabo Swinney to be drafted into the NFL, including the 12th first-round pick of Swinney’s tenure.
- Represents Clemson’s 33rd first-round pick in the NFL Draft all-time, dating to Banks McFadden’s selection by the NFL’s Brooklyn Dodgers with the fourth overall pick in the 1940 NFL Draft.
- Became the 15th Clemson player selected by the Cardinals all-time, the third-most of any franchise. He is the Cardinals’ first selection from Clemson since running back Andre Ellington in the 2013 NFL Draft.
- Surpasses Harold Olson (No. 13 overall in 1960) as the highest pick from Clemson in Cardinals history. Simmons became the first first-round pick from Clemson in Cardinals history, as the 1960 NFL Draft featuring Olson only included 12 teams.
- Joined Vic Beasley (2015) as the only No. 8 overall selections in Clemson history. Simmons is now tied with Beasley for the ninth-highest selection in Clemson.
- Became Clemson’s 12th Top 10 pick all-time and, including the No. 4 overall pick of Clelin Ferrell last year, gave Clemson back-to-back drafts with a Top 10 selection for the third time in Clemson history (1982-83 with Jeff Bryant and Terry Kinard; Sammy Watkins and Vic Beasley in 2014-15).
- Became the first Clemson linebacker selected in the first round since Stephone Anthony in 2015 (No. 31 by the New Orleans Saints). Coincidentally, now three of Clemson’s four linebackers (excluding edge-rusher DE/LB hybrids like Vic Beasley) selected in the first round all-time have had the surname Simmons, including Wayne Simmons in 1993 and Anthony Simmons in 1998.
- His selection marks the third straight draft in which a defensive player was the first Clemson player selected. The last offensive player to be the first Clemson player selected in a draft was wide receiver Mike Williams (No. 7 overall in 2017).
- Prior to Simmons’ selection Thursday, the most recent Clemson linebacker selected was Dorian O’Daniel in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft. O’Daniel was one of three Clemson players on Kansas City’s 46-man active roster in Super Bowl LIV this past February.
- Selected by a coaching staff that includes Arizona Defensive Line Coach Brentson Buckner, a Clemson Athletic Hall of Famer who was an All-ACC selection in both 1992 and 1993. A year ago, Buckner was on the Raiders’ staff that selected Clemson’s Clelin Ferrell with the No. 4 overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft.
- Will play home games at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., the site of Clemson’s 29-23 victory against Ohio State in the College Football Playoff National Semifinal at the Fiesta Bowl in which Simmons recorded an interception.
- Became the 59th player to have played for Head Coach Dabo Swinney to be drafted into the NFL, including the 13th first-round pick of Swinney’s tenure.
- Represents Clemson’s 34th first-round pick in NFL Draft history.
- Represents the third-highest selection among cornerbacks in Clemson history, trailing Donnell Woolford’s No. 11 overall selection by the Chicago Bears in 1989 and Tye Hill’s No. 15 overall selection in 2006.
- Became the 14th defensive back selected in the Swinney era dating to the 2009 NFL Draft.
- Was Clemson’s second No. 16 overall selection all-time, joining DT Chester McGlockton’s 1992 selection by the Los Angeles Raiders.
- Became the eighth Clemson player selected by the Falcons all-time, joining DB Rod McSwain (1984), CB Reggie Pleasant (1985), RB Kenny Flowers (1987), DE Malliciah Goodman (2013), DE Vic Beasley (2015) and DT Grady Jarrett (2015), as well as the 1966 Supplemental Draft selection of LB Randy Smith.
- Was selected by his hometown Atlanta Falcons, becoming the first Clemson player selected to play for his home-state team since the Falcons selected Georgia natives Vic Beasley (Day 1) and Grady Jarrett (Day 3) in 2015.
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.”