To no one’s surprise, junior tight end Dion Sims is leaving MSU a year early to enter the NFL Draft.
ESPN’s Joe Schad reported the news on Twitter this evening. Fall projections put Sims between the second and fourth round in analysts’ mock drafts.
Here’s a portion of my November story about Sims and the other Spartan juniors – including RB Le’Veon Bell and DE Will Gholston – and what his NFL prospects are.
If there is one player who most scouts agree on, it’s the 6-5, 285-pound Sims.
A Detroit native like Gholston, Sims’ size makes him an attractive target in a thin tight end draft. (ESPN’s Todd) McShay pegs him as the second-best draft target at tight end and a potential second-rounder, should he enter, due to his ability as a blocker and intermediate-distance pass catcher.
“He just has a rare blend of physical tools. He’ll continue to get better and better,” McShay said. “I don’t think he’s put it all together yet, but I think he has a chance to become a really good player at the next level.”
(CBSSports.com’s Dane) Brugler thinks Sims could slip into the third or fourth round and ranks three other juniors – Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert, Stanford’s Zack Ertz and Florida’s Jordan Reed – ahead of the MSU tight end. But Brugler adds that Sims “is right there in that discussion” to be one of the first at the position off the board should they all enter the draft.
“You love the way he can just simply abuse defenders and box out his man so he can turn and show his quarterback his numbers. That’s something that’s an obvious mismatch when he’s lined up in the slot over a nickel back,” Brugler said Sims. “The biggest thing for Sims is it’s a weak senior tight end class. If Sims declares early, I think it’ll be interesting because it’ll be based on what other underclassmen declare.”
An ankle injury has “severely limited” Sims’ productivity, according to Brugler. He’s made 27 catches for 345 yards with two TDs in the nine games he’s played this season.
“I’ll talk to coach D (Mark Dantonio) and my family and we’ll make the best decision,” Sims said. “As of now, I’m not really focused on that. I’m just trying to stay healthy these last two games and get through.”
We’re still in wait-and-see mode for both Bell and Gholston, though Sports Illustrated’s Tony Pauline reported that Bell will meet with agents this week. They all have until Jan. 15 to declare for early entry.
Most draft analysts think Bell has reached his pinnacle and see him as between a second- to fourth-round pick. Some think Gholston could rise into the first round if he stays another year in college, but they also believe he possesses the talent to be an impact player in the NFL.
As for MSU’s options next season at tight end, redshirt freshman Paul Lang, sophomore Andrew Gleichert and junior Derek Hoebing all saw limited action this fall – predominantly while Sims was sidelined with an ankle injury. Two players who redshirted this season, Evan Jones and Josiah Price, also will be factors. So, too, could incoming recruit Dylan Chmura – the son of former Green Bay Packers tight end great Mark Chmura.