Looking for some perspective on Ernie Sims, the Eagles' latest acquisition, I spoke to a few people who would know best what kind of linebacker the Eagles were getting. One was a Detroit area writer who covers the Lions and another was a NFL scout that regularly scouts the NFC North.
The writer had nice things to say about Sims the person and his devotion to football. But he said there was a reason why the Lions had given up on their 2006 first-round draft pick. Some of it had to do with timing -- Sims is in the last year of his contract -- some of it had to do with never reaching one's potential and some if it had to do with just moving on.
The scout thought the trade was a good one for the Eagles, not only because they would be getting a player with a "high motor," but because Sims would flourish in a system that was predicated on its linebackers playing downhill. The scout did say that Sims had trouble playing in space.
The Eagles view Sims as a starter, either at weak-side or strong-side linebacker. His size would imply that he's better suited to play WIL, but the Eagles need a SAM linebacker that can run with a tight end and Sims has done that, although not much of it.
As much as I appreciated the reports I received from the writer and the scout, I thought the e-mail I received from a Lions fan this morning was just as useful. Take it for what it's worth, but I could imagine an Eagles fan writing the same thing to another team's beat writer about a player that looked great to the outside world but not so great to those who watched him week after week, year after year (think: McNabb). Here's the unedited e-mail:
Here is some Detroit perception for you ...
Sims is 5-10, 230 lbs., not 6-0.
He is quick, but he continuously overruns plays, even when in the scheme he was drafted for. Perhaps part of this is his maturing as a player.
I think he's a high character, high intensity guy who is always working hard, but he's not really big enough to play linebacker. If he were smart enough to make the position change, I think he could make a good strong saftey, if he played better in space, because he is a hitter.
Given the observation that he continues to overrun plays at linebacker which is a position he already has a lot of time at, expecting him to play well in MORE space as a strong saftey would be a stretch.
Finally, as a Matt Millen high draft pick, you have to be a little skeptical. He started here because the Lions spent a high pick and a lot of money on him and kept hope that he would pan out. As bad as our defense in Detroit was the past couple of years (one of the worst in history), if he were REALLY a catalyst, wouldn't Gun Cunningham (who really knows what he is doing) have kept him around? The Lions don't even have a replacement, yet traded him ANYWAY.
I wish Sims and the Eagles well, but honestly, I'm GLAD we got rid of him.
Good luck in Philly.