It's Now or Never for Sims

Defensive tackle Ryan Sims has yet to live up to his first round draft selection. As the team prepares for organized workouts this week, Gunther Cunningham has his work cut out for him in getting Sims to buy into the Chiefs new defensive schemes.

Flashback to the 2002 NFL Draft. The Dallas Cowboys held the sixth overall selection. Dallas was targeting Oklahoma Safety Roy Williams with that selection but they were looking to trade down a couple of spots to acquire extra draft picks and still get their guy. After Dallas, the Minnesota Vikings and Kansas City Chiefs were looking at Defensive Tackle Ryan Sims from North Carolina to sure up their defensive lines.

While the Cowboys were on the clock, they fielded calls to trade down. One of those calls was from the Chiefs. The Chiefs wanted to jump ahead of the Vikings and take Sims. A deal was ultimately made but Dallas did not officially notify the NFL. When the time ran out on the Cowboys selection, no card had been turned in. The Vikings then ran up and handed in a card with the name ‘Ryan Sims' on it.

After a lot of debating, the NFL declared that a trade had been made in time between the Chiefs and Cowboys and the Chiefs were awarded Sims with the sixth pick in the draft. The Vikings then selected Miami OT Bryant McKinnie with the seventh pick and the Cowboys got Williams with the eighth selection by virtue of trading down with Kansas City. After three NFL seasons, McKinnie and Williams are two of the top players at their position while Sims.

Sometimes it is better to be lucky than good. Kansas City got their man in Sims but he has not been the dominant interior defensive presence they envisioned when they drafted him. Sims dislocated his elbow during his rookie season, limiting him to only six games. He then came back strong in 2003, having his best season as a Chief. Sims recorded 83 tackles and 3 sacks in his second season, giving the Chiefs high expectations for Sims in 2004. Those expectations, however, came to a crashing halt. Sims missed six games due to injury last year and only managed 15 total tackles and 2 sacks. Not really the kind of numbers you look for out of a top ten draft pick.

This season is a make or break year for Sims. The Chiefs went out and spent a lot of money to improve their defense but that is going to be a moot point if their defensive line continues to get pushed around. The past few years the Chiefs biggest problem has been having their interior defensive line pushed around. Players like Carlos Hall, Kendrell Bell, Sammy Knight and Patrick Surtain are nice acquisitions but they won't mean much in the end if opposing offenses can just hand the ball off to their running back and get five yards a carry.

Right now, the Chiefs have some nice players at defensive tackle. Lionel Dalton, John Browning and Junior Siavi are all serviceable players but Sims is the key. He is the player with the most physical talent at the defensive tackle position. Sims has the ability to be a difference-maker and that is what the Chiefs need to turn things around on the defensive side of the ball in 2005.

Sims was a terror in college, finishing his career at North Carolina with 167 tackles, 14 sacks and 28 tackles for losses in 43 games. The Chiefs are hoping that is the Sims they see in 2005. There is reason for optimism in Kansas City. Despite missing 16 games in three years and doing virtually nothing last year, Sims did show flashes of being a good player two years ago and players, coaches and fans in Kansas City are hoping that 2004 is the aberration and not 2003.

Virtually every defensive coordinator in the NFL will tell you the same thing. To be successful in the NFL, the first thing teams have to do is stop the run. Anyone who follows the Chiefs knows that is something that hasn't been done in Kansas City for quite a while. In order for the Chiefs to take the next step, in order for them to compete for a Super Bowl title, they need much better play on the interior of their defensive line, particularly Sims. If Sims can rebound from a disappointing 2004, the Chiefs' defenses may finally show the improvement the team needs to win a championship.

If Sims does not play well early on this season, Gunther Cunningham is going to have to use a quick hook with him and try someone else because the Chiefs need better play from their defensive tackles, regardless of where they were drafted. There is no doubt about it, this upcoming season is now or never for Ryan Sims and the entire Chiefs' defense.


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