DOLPHINS DRAFT RETURNER

If nothing else, the Dolphins' second pick in the fifth round will bring a lot of versatility to the team. Sam Simmons, the 170th overall selection, played wide receiver for Northwestern, but he also carried the ball a few times as well as returning punts and kickoffs.

Simmons also should become a jack of all trades for the Dolphins, who are thinking about him as a slot receiver, punt and kickoff returner, flyer on punt coverage and also as a member of the kickoff coverage team.

"I can take up to six roster spots," Simmons said. "That's what a lot of teams are looking for."

It certainly appealed to the Dolphins, who will give Simmons a shot to unseat Jeff Ogden as the punt returner and take over as the kickoff returner to avoid using starting free safety Brock Marion or wide receiver Chris Chambers in that role.

Simmons averaged 10.8 yards on punt returns last season with a 71-yard touchdown against Penn State. He returned only one kickoff in 2001, but averaged 27.6 yards as a freshman in 1998 and 26.2 yards the following year.

"The biggest thing I like about him is he's got great quickness," said Dolphins special teams coach Keith Armstrong. "He's a guy who can play several different roles for you."

Simmons lasted until the fifth round of the draft because of his size -- he stands a shade under 5-9.

He might not have gotten drafted at all had it not been for a tremendous performance at a pre-draft workout at Northwestern.

"There was no pressure on myself," Simmons said. "I saw myself as a free agent, so I made it into a fun event. But I showed a lot of quickness and I caught every ball thrown my way."

Simmons has been married for a year and a half and has two children, a 3-year-old daughter named Palia and a 1-year-old named Jada.

The communications studies major isn't shy about saying his attitude helped him get drafted.

"Character had to be a huge issue," he said. "I'm a great guy."

Whether he can become a great NFL player might depend on whether he can overcome his lack of size. But Simmons has no doubts about his potential.

"If you look at every team, they all have at least one guy who's 5-9," he said. "I bring different things to the table. Hopefully I can be like a Troy Brown or Troy Edwards for the Steelers."


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