Auburn, Ala.--Whoever Auburn's new defensive coordinator will be for the 2008 season will have to replace one of the key players for the Tigers as defensive tackle Pat Sims has decided to forego his senior season and declare for the NFL Draft.
A top performer on defense for Auburn in 2007 after struggling with inconsistency for his entire career, Sims made 37 tackles, had 11 1/2 tackles for a loss, and added 4 1/2 sacks from his defensive tackle spot. His improved play was one of the reasons why Auburn's defense finished among the best in the country in most key categories.
Sims put his best foot forward late in his junior year as he followed up a six-tackle performance in a win over Alabama with a game against Clemson that earned him Chick-fil-A Bowl Defensive MFP honors. In the game Sims made four stops, a sack, and three tackles for a loss.
One of the country's top defensive tackle prospects coming out of Dillard High in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., Sims redshirted in 2004 before becoming disgruntled and leaving the Auburn team to return home early in the 2005 season. Given another shot by Coach Tommy Tuberville and his staff, Sims came back a different player and person in the spring of 2006.
Playing in all 13 games as a sophomore, Sims finished the year with 16 tackles, three sacks and five tackles for a loss. Again his best game came at the end of the season as he totaled three tackles and one sack in a Cotton Bowl victory over Nebraska.
Based on early projections from NFL scouts and draft experts, Sims is likely a second or third round selection at this time. That could change with a good showing at the NFL Combine and workouts on the Auburn campus.