Eagles Exchange 5th-Round Pick For LB Sims
By Lance Epstein
Today, the Eagles announced that the have acquired Ernie Sims, a weakside linebacker from the Detroit Lions.
In a rare and unusual three-team trade, the Eagles sent their fifth-round pick (137th; acquired in the Sheldon Brown and Chris Gocong deal with Cleveland) to the Lions for Sims. Also as part of the trade, the Lions acquire Broncos' tight end Tony Scheffler and a seventh-round pick (220th).
Sims, 25, is a former first-round pick (9th overall) of the Lions and has shown the ability to be a playmaker even on a bad Lions defense. In his four-year career, he has played in 59 games (56 starts) and registered 421 tackles, six forced fumbles, 2.5 sacks and one interception.
"We are excited to acquire Ernie Sims," said general manager Howie Roseman. "He plays fast, he's aggressive and his style is a great fit for our defensive scheme. He is a leader who was a team captain for the Lions and we are eager to see what he can do in our defense."
On thing that head coach Andy Reid loved about Sims was the fact he brings a ton of energy to the field and is an impact player at linebacker, which the Eagles desperately need.
"Ernie Sims is an impact player at the linebacker position," Reid said. "He brings a lot of energy to our already energized defense. We are looking forward to adding him to our team."
The former Florida State linebacker saw immediate action with the Lions as he was plugged him into the starting lineup as a rookie. In his rookie season of 2006, Pro Football Weekly honored as an all-rookie after leading the Lions with 144 tackles and playing in all 16 games. The following two seasons, Sims became a leader of the defense, started all 32 games during that time and recorded 312 tackles (average of 156 tackles per season).
Unfortunately, his 2009 campaign was a down year for Sims. He only played and started in 11 games for the Lions since he battled a rash of injuries. Additionally, he only compiled 49 tackles and one forced fumble. The Eagles are hoping that he can bounce back to his previous form that made him one of the up-and-coming linebackers in the league.
With the Eagles the 6-foot, 225-pound linebacker will compete with Akeem Jordan for the starting weakside linebacker position. Certainly, this move improves the Eagles linebacker crops and gives it much needed depth. Sims has the unique talent to play in coverage, get to the ball carrier in the backfield and has the athleticism to get to the quarterback. In fact, Sims might be the most athletic and instinctive linebacker on the Eagles.
This trade also means that Akeem Jordan could slide over to the SAM linebacker position and compete with Moise Fokou to be the starter. Remember, Jordan was one of the Eagles better cover linebackers for the Eagles before he went down with a leg injury in week four. In the first two games of the season, he pulled down two interceptions and was a magnet to the ball.
Also, if Jordan does not win the SAM linebacker position, he could become the team's primary backup at the linebacker position. This past season, he demonstrated his versatility to play any of the positions on the field.
Ultimately, this trade could potential make Omar Gaither a target to be traded during this week's NFL draft. If Jordan indeed becomes the backup, then the Eagles might shop Gaither to a team in need of a weakside linebacker/middle linebacker. The Eagles could quite possibly recover the fifth-round pick that they gave up to the Lions, but more than likely would only acquire a sixth or seventh round pick.
Furthermore, this marks the fifth trade for the Eagles in the offseason, but only the third in which they received a veteran player as compensation (Darryl Tapp and Alex Hall are the other two).
Heading into Thursday's NFL Draft, the Eagles now have 10 selections and are still expected to be movers and shakers-- 1st round (24th overall), 2nd round (37, 55), 3rd round (70, 87), 4th round (105, 121), 6th round (200) and 7th round (243, 244).
However, the fans should not expect a linebacker to be a high priority for the team. A couple days ago, a report surfaced that they very interested in Alabama's middle linebacker prospect Rolando McClain, who is expected to go in the top 15 of the draft. With the acquisition of Sims, the Eagles have currently six linebackers on the roster and have much bigger needs at corner, safety and left defensive end.