+Very athletic for his size
+Ridiculous quickness for his size
+Strong in the lower body
+Hard to tackle
-Not an elite route runner
-Phenomenal athlete for a tight end with his size, but he’s oversized and mediocre overall
-Not incredibly fluid
The blocking tight end has fallen out of favor in today’s NFL. I get that. A guy who can catch passes and stretch the defense is a real matchup problem. That being said, if your position involves you starting most plays less than 10 yards from your running back, you need to be a passable blocker. The NFL may be a passing league, but about 42% of all NFL plays are run plays. As long as tight ends don’t line up out wide, they have to be decent blockers. However, in this league, guys like Michigan State’s Dion Sims have been forgotten in favor of guys like Zach Ertz because of the NFL’s love for pass catching tight ends. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying many of the NFL’s most statistically productive tight ends are bad. The fact is, Rob Gronkowski is a very good blocker. Jimmy Graham is neither good nor bad as a blocker, and his pass catching makes him a pro bowler. Same goes for Vernon Davis (nowadays). But a guy who can block still has value. Not too mention, he’s an underrated pass catcher.
Sims has very good measurables. He’s a solid 6’5, he has great bulk at 262lbs, and good speed with a 4.75 40 yard dash at the combine, good for 8th among tight ends, in spite of the fact that he was the 3rd heaviest tight end at the combine. He was average on the bench press with 22 reps at 225lbs, but had a terrific 35 inch vertical, good for 4th among tight ends, and a good indicator of his great strength in his legs. His hands are like baseball gloves: 10 1/2 inches, second at the combine.
One of the most confusing things I see as a scout is a guy make a huge improvement from one season to the next and see no change in his draft stock. Dion Sims had that experience. He broke out as Michigan State’s best pass catcher this season, finishing with 475 receiving yards this season (3rd on the team) in spite of the fact he missed parts of 4 games with an injury, and he played on a team that could not pass.
Sims is a good blocker with the potential to be great. He’s a tad raw, but he shows great ability to drive defenders off the ball with his strong legs, plus he has an extremely wide frame. He also gets an excellent initial punch as a run blocker and has very good quickness. He even blocks on pass plays every once and a while, and he’s pretty good at it, but he probably won’t get the opportunity to do much of that in the NFL. He also fights to sustain blocks. On the downside, he occasionally leans on his hands as a run blocker, he doesn’t have great length, and, most importantly, has below average on field awareness as a run blocker. Tight ends are very mobile blockers who have to be able to read a defense and find a guy who needs to block. Sims sometimes looks lost in the second level, which can limit his production. Still, with his raw physical ability and wide frame, he’s an above average run blocker.
Sims is simply a better pass catcher than people realize. First off, he may not be the most fluid guy out there, but he flashes spectacular burst for a guy his size. The balance in his release is inconsistent, but when he gets it right, he absolutely explodes off the snap. His 40 time may have been 8th among tight ends, but his 1.60 10 yard split was number 3rd best. It’s quite unusual given his size, but it’s fun to watch him when he does get a good release. In addition, his vertical speed is much better on film than in shorts, flashing shocking speed at times. However, he’s not too fluid. His fluidity is average for his size, but mediocre by most standards. He isn’t very quick or deceptive in and out of breaks. Plus, he’s a fairly raw route runner who has shown little to no ability to read zone coverage. On the bright side, he’s a good leaper with very reliable baseball gloves that he calls hands. He rarely drops passes and he doesn’t trap passes against his frame, plus he’s pretty coordinated with the ball in the air, but he doesn’t have great body control. He’s surprisingly good after the catch. He’s not the most athletic guy with the ball in his hands, but he’ll be one of the largest guys that regularly has the ball in his hands in the NFL immediately and is simply to big to be tackled by corners. He also is very good about lowering his shoulder and getting lots of yards after contact.
I like Sims. He’s a very good athlete with solid hands and above average blocking ability. I think he’s one of the more underrated prospects in this draft. A bit raw, but potential is there.
NFL Comparison: Marcedes Lewis. Might be a bit more raw.
Grade: 82 (worthy of a late 2nd round pick)
Projection: 65 (will be a mid 4th round pick)