As the Miami Dolphins watched one of their high-priced offseason additions in tight end Dustin Keller writhe in pain on Saturday night, the team had to be thinking about its depth chart. With word now emerging that Keller will be out for the year with what is rumored to be a torn ACL, MCL, PCL, and dislocated knee, that depth chart figures to come into focus very quickly for the Phins moving forward.
One player that will see an immediate boost from Keller’s misfortune is rookie Dion Sims. Miami head coach Joe Philbin has spoken highly of the team’s fourth-round pick from April already telling the Miami Herald:
“I like [Sims] a lot. He’s doing a lot of good things. He has a chance to be a very good blocker in this league. He’s got soft hands. He’s had a very good camp. He’s going to be a good player.”
Sims may be listed as the third tight end still even after the injury to Keller, but neither Charles Clay nor Michael Egnew have proven themselves worthy of the opportunity to start at the NFL level. At 6-foot-5, 262-pounds Sims certainly has the size advantage on his competition to get more reps as camp moves along. The fact that coach Philbin has lauded his hands already speaks volumes about a first-year player, and if he can continue to improve his understanding of the offense and familiarity with Ryan Tannehill he could easily become one of the primary tight end targets this season.
It may not be without some growing pains, but Sims should see some integration into the Miami offense soon. He is an inviting red-zone target which the team has been lacking when it gets in close to the goal line. That is a valuable commodity in today’s game where weapons like Mike Wallace, who Miami signed this offseason, are awesome in the open field but less effective in condensed spaces.
To expect a rookie like Sims to become anything more than a solid contributor in year one would be a bit ambitious, but there’s no reason he can’t contribute a handful of touchdowns when the Phins are in the red-zone. Look for his impact to be a slow but steady process as Miami plans for life without Keller for the remainder of the 2013 season.