After the Dolphins’ first practice of their rookie minicamp, Head Coach Joe Philbin was asked for his first impressions of rookie tight end
No doubt, the 6-foot-4, 262-pound Sims looks the part. And that didn’t come by accident.
You see, Sims’ biography from Michigan State University listed him at 6-5, 285. Those are pretty good dimensions if you happen to be an offensive tackle. For a tight end hoping to be a factor as a receiver in the NFL, not so much.
“It’s about speed,” Sims said. “Playing tight end, you have to be able to do both, run and block. That’s the main thing I really have to focus on, my all-around game. My main thing is route running and speed and separation.”
Sims’ weight loss was evident at the scouting combine when he ran a respectable 4.75 40-yard dash and no doubt helped his draft stock.
The Dolphins sure noticed the change in Sims.
“He played at probably a little heavier weight in college than what we saw here in the spring and that’s what really intrigued us about him,” General Manager Jeff Ireland said. “He lost some weight, showed us some discipline in that regard and moved around very well in the spring.”
Mind you, Sims moved well enough last fall to catch 36 passes for 475 yards and two touchdowns. His 13.2-yard average, an impressive figure for a tight end, led the team.
Also consider that Sims last season played on an offense that was focused on the running game, to put it mildly. With quarterback Kirk Cousins having been drafted by Washington last spring, MSU made running back Le’Veon Bell the focus of the offense and he ended up averaging 29.4 carries per game.
No wonder the Michigan State coaches didn’t mind Sims having offensive lineman size.
“Most of the time I was between 275 and 280,” Sims said. “That’s pretty much where the coaches wanted me to be, maybe a little bit lighter. But they didn’t see a big issue in it because I was very effective in the run game and I did whatever I could to help the team out.”
Sims entered the draft despite having a year of eligibility left at Michigan State, a decision he described as a tough process.
“The main thing that triggered me for leaving was the birth of my daughter,” Sims said. “She was born in November. It’s important for me to be able to provide for my family and just take my talents to the next level.”
The first order of business once that decision was made was to do something about his weight.
“Listening to a lot of guys that play at the next level and just watching most of the tight end at the next level, none of them are really above 280, or 275,” Sims said. “Most of them are in the 260-250 range. So I just felt it was important for me to get down if I wanted to make an impact at this level.
“I dedicated my time to get ready for the next level pretty much after the offseason and training for the combine. It was just a matter of putting in hard work and just staying dedicated and getting my weight to where it needed to be so I can be active.”
Sims says he’s running “a lot better” than before, but still has work to do to get in “tip-top shape.”
In Sims, the Dolphins got themselves one of the most physical gifted tight ends available in the draft. Back in 2009, Sims was one of only five high school tight ends to get a five-star rating by Rivals.com. He was ranked as the fifth-best tight end recruit, ahead of the first two tight ends taken in this year’s draft — Tyler Eifert (24th) and Zach Ertz (10th).
In addition to being an All-American in football at St. Mary’s Catholic High School in Orchard Lake, Mich., Sims also was an all-state basketball player.
“It was pretty much even,” Sims said. “I excelled at both. Football was more my sport. I had better potential in football. I just felt not everybody can play football, only a select few guys. Just being one of those guys is just a blessing. I’m just fortunate to be in this situation and I’m taking advantage of it.
“I want to be like Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez, just a combination of guys who have basketball backgrounds or they’re very athletic. I know Antonio Gates didn’t play a down in college. That just tells you how much potential you can have with that athleticism. I really compare myself kind of to him. I’m just looking forward to walking in his steps and becoming better than he is.”