Ravens intrigued by Ernie Sims

OWINGS MILLS -- Ozzie Newsome lost his poker face for a moment and couldn't hide a knowing smile at the sound of Florida State linebacker Ernie Sims' name. The Baltimore Ravens general manager normally contains his enthusiasm about prospects, preferring to keep secret his intentions and opinions.

That's not the case, though, with Sims, a 5-foot-11, 235-pound junior with a pronounced nasty streak and 4.48 speed over 40 yards.

"Ernie Sims is a guy that when I was looking for those seniors at Florida State I kept asking, ‘Who is this No. 34?'" Newsome said. "He is an explosive football player. He can run. His mother [Alice Sims] is one of the all-time track stars at Florida State.

"Ernie is the type of football player that when you look at what we've done as an organization and the type of defense we've put together, those are the type of players that we covet."

Sims, who visited the Ravens, is likely to be available at the 13th overall pick. However, it's debatable whether they really need him.

Even though All-Pro middle linebacker Ray Lewis has created a controversy with his complaints about the defense and declining to give coach Brian Billick a vote of confidence, the Ravens haven't received any trade overtures and have no intentions of releasing him.

Baltimore appears set at outside linebacker with Terrell Suggs and Adalius Thomas, who's entering the final year of his contract. Plus, Dan Cody is recovering well from a knee injury that cost him his entire rookie season.

The scenario where Sims could fit is if the Ravens want to part ways with Lewis now or after this season. Sims, who has a histoy of giving out and incurring concussions, could thrive as a middle linebacker in a 4-3 scheme with appropriately-sized defensive tackles in front of him.

"He's aggressive, smart and tough, just not real big," Ravens director of college scouting Eric DeCosta said. "In certain schemes, he's going to fit. I think in a 3-4 defense you're not going to like him as much because your inside linebackers have to be bigger, thicker, stronger guys.

"If you're in a 4-3 defense and you're looking for a guy who can run to the ball and make a lot of plays, Ernie Sims is that kind of player and I expect him to be a very good player in the NFL."

A record-setting tailback in high school, the Tallahassee, Fla., native has drawn comparisons to Denver Broncos linebacker Ian Gold and New York Jets linebacker Jonathan Vilma.

An honorable-mention all-conference selection whose father, Ernie Sims Sr. played fullback for the Seminoles, Sims acknowledged that his college career wasn't what he hoped for.

"I didn't leave a statement like I really wanted to," Sims said.

A character concern was raised after Sims' arrest last year on domestic battery and resisting arrest without violence after an argument with his live-in girlfriend.

"He grabbed her, held onto her and wouldn't let her get away," a police report said. "He did not hit or beat or slap her. She had a scrape or something. She wouldn't let us photograph her. He had some defensive wounds."
Sims was suspended from the team, but was sentenced to probation and reinstated. He had a clean record prior to the misdemeanor arrest and hasn't been in trouble since.

Sims' older brother, Michael Gibson, paid a heavy price for his problems with the law.

The former FSU running back is serving six life sentences for his conviction for shooting, raping and robbing a woman shortly before Christmas in 1993. Four of his life sentences were for rape, one was for armed burglary and another was for attempted felony murder.

"I think they know I'll be a family man," said Sims of the impression he hopes to make on NFL teams, adding that he wore No. 34 to honor his older brother. "You won't have to worry about me running the streets and everything. I'm out there working for a reason. I'm trying to feed my family."

NOTES: Georgia offensive guard Max Jean-Gilles and USC tight end Dominique Byrd visited the Ravens. … Baltimore attended a private workout for San Diego State inside linebacker Freddie Kiaho.

In addition to being a long time contributor to RavensInsider, Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.

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