I just hopped off a conference call with the newest member of the Eagles' linebacking corps, Ernie Sims. As ESPN's Adam Schefter reported this morning, the former Lions linebacker came over in a three-way trade involving Detroit and Denver. Sims, the No. 9 overall pick for the Lions in '06, said he played both the strong and weakside spots over the past four seasons.
His '09 season was interrupted by shoulder and hamstring injuries, but Sims indicated Monday that he's fully recovered. The trade caught him by surprise, but as you might expect, he's excited to be joining a perennial playoff team. Asked what spot he'd fill in Sean McDermott's 4-3 scheme, Sims said he could "play all three of them."
He primarily played the weakside spot for the Lions, but he said Jim Schwartz's defense required him to switch sides depending on certain looks. He does have some experience lining up over the tight end, but he's not known for his coverage skills. At 6-foot, 230 pounds, Sims relies on speed to make a lot of tackles. He immediately gives the Eagles more depth at linebacker and it's likely he'll compete with Akeem Jordan for a starting role.
Sims has some familiarity with the Eagles because he's stayed in touch with his former Florida State teammate, Brod Bunkley. He described his '09 season as "fluky" because of the injuries and the new coaching staff. It's obvious that he's excited about the opportunity to have a fresh start. It's not like Sims was a complete bust in Detroit. He was a team captain and he made a lot of tackles. But he wasn't a great fit for Schwartz's defense because of his lack of size.
Sims said he reported for work Monday at the Lions' facility just like any other day. And that's when he received the news he'd been traded. The Eagles gave up a fifth-round draft pick for a guy who was once considered a top-10 talent. On the surface, it looks like a pretty good risk to take. It's not like they were expecting to find a starting linebacker in the fifth.