A few weeks ago I profiled Alabama quarterback Blake Sims and why I think he's a potential fit in the Eagles' offense under Chip Kelly. In his first and only season starting for the Crimson Tide, Sims broke A.J. McCarron's program record of 3,063 passing yards (set in 2013), finishing with 3,487 passing yards and 28 touchdowns. Sims was able to beat teams with his arm and legs and, due to his size and playing style, naturally garnered comparisons to Russell Wilson -- one he himself embraces.
Why Alabama QB Blake Sims Fits The Eagles Offense
A comprehensive breakdown of Alabama quarterback and Senior Bowl participant Blake Sims, and why I think his skill set translates very well as a possible fit in Chip Kelly's offense.
Sims steadily improved over the course of the season under the tutelage of offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin. At the end, he engineered a furious comeback to defeat Auburn in the Iron Bowl and then proceeded to put forth a flawless performance in leading Alabama to victory in the SEC Championship Game over Missouri. However, in the Sugar Bowl the redshirt senior ran into a buzz saw of destiny in Ohio State, throwing three backbreaking second-half interceptions en route to a 42-35 loss. Nevertheless, Sims' accomplishments were significant, especially given his journey and perseverance. After taking part in the Senior Bowl, he is now training for the NFL Combine (February 17-23) in Indianapolis.
Sims joined Mike Kaye, John Barchard and me on an episode of BGN Radio to talk about his time at Alabama and the road that lies ahead as he prepares for the NFL.
Mike Kaye: Who was your favorite player to watch growing up and, now that you're a quarterback about to go into the NFL, who do you model your game after?
Blake Sims: Growing up, my favorite quarterback was Michael Vick, and since I have been playing the quarterback position in college, I really look up to Russell Wilson.
Dan Klausner: You bounced around a number of positions during your time at Alabama -- safety, receiver, running back -- before settling in at quarterback. Is there anything you learned from playing all those positions -- like whether it's instincts or things you can read from the defense -- that you now draw upon to play quarterback?
Blake Sims: I just think it's the instincts and pretty much knowing what everyone on my team had (to do), how important every position is and how to deploy everybody's role to be very successful.
Dan Klausner: Is there one thing you might see a safety do after the snap that you can say, 'Hey, I realize what he's doing so I'm going to go here with the ball, or I'm going to look him off and go somewhere else with the ball'?
Blake Sims: I think it's body language, how they react and everything. I try to focus on their body language. When the ball is snapped, I'll see what (the defender) does and if I can't see it very clearly, I'll ask my teammates (after the play) to see if they saw the same thing. Then I'll tell my running backs and my wideouts, 'Hey, if he does this again, this is what I want you to do.'
Dan Klausner: You and Lane Kiffin have a long relationship going back to his time recruiting you when he was at Tennessee. What's the most important thing you learned from him about the quarterback position and about playing in a pro offense?
Blake Sims: That bad plays are going to happen. The big thing is how you are going to overcome them and to always keep my composure at all times and never be satisfied until the game is over because the game could change at any time.
Dan Klausner: I personally felt watching your tape that your most impressive, telling drive of the season was at the end of regulation against LSU, when you drove the team down the field to tie the game. You made a number of big throws, overcame a few drops and at the end you were able to get the team up to the line, spike the ball and then make another 20-yard out throw to get you guys into field goal range. Is that the drive you're most proud of, and if not, what did you feel was your coming-of-age moment at Alabama this season?
Blake Sims: I think that drive really just showed everybody that I'm capable of being clutch when the time comes and I'm a big competitor and I love to win. I think my best game, I have to go with Auburn (in the Iron Bowl) because I think for me and my teammates to overcome being down two touchdowns and coming back to win that game, I felt like those were my best drives (in the second half).
Dan Klausner: In that Auburn game you had a really tough first half and came back in the second half and it was a like 180. You were throwing much better balls, you led the team back. Was there anything that Lane Kiffin or Coach (Nick) Saban told you at halftime or anything you told your teammates that really turned the momentum around?
Blake Sims: They both just really told me, 'Hey, we trust in you, go out there and make the plays you're capable of making. We know that you're going to lead this team to victory and we having nothing but 100 percent trust in you.' My teammates, several of them came up to me and said, 'Hey, Blake, you're a game-changer, don't be down on yourself because you're going to help us win this game.'
Dan Klausner: Now, moving on, I know that the Ohio State game and the Sugar Bowl is not something you remember too fondly, but you've said that the loss to the Buckeyes is what will fuel you to succeed in the NFL. What lessons in particular did you learn from that game that you think can help you moving forward?
Blake Sims: Hard work. Hard work. I'm not saying I didn't put a lot of hard work into (preparing for that game) -- I did, I watched a lot of film against Ohio State. But maybe, for me to lose, I always feel like it's probably something I could've done more to help my team win the game. By me losing that game, going to the NFL, it lets me know that maybe there was something I could've done extra that week or I could've done more film work and sat down with Lane Kiffin more. That's what I'll take to the NFL with me.
Dan Klausner: This is a Senior Bowl-related (question). You went there and had a lot of meetings with coaches and scouts. What was the most frequent question they asked you, and did they give you a certain part of your game that they think you have to work on and improve upon to succeed in the NFL?
Blake Sims: They really didn't give me anything like that. They just wanted to know what made me stick around Alabama and stay five years, play my last year here and what motivated me to be as good as I was. They just said that I need to work on throwing to my left, so that's the main thing I'm working on now.
Dan Klausner: When they asked you about the reasons for staying at Alabama for five years and backing up A.J. McCarron and then, finally, getting your last chance -- you only had one year to make it work, otherwise you weren't going to get another (chance) -- what did you tell them?
Blake Sims: I've got family, my family's here. I've built a lot of strong relationships with people here, and my brothers, my teammates -- I've grown close with their families, their daughters. I knew my time was coming and when I got my opportunity, I was going to take full advantage of it.
Dan Klausner: These scouts and coaches said you have to work on throwing to your left, but you personally, Blake Sims, what do you think is the number one part of your game that you have to work on?
Blake Sims: I think it's my footwork. My footwork and balance outside the pocket. I can also get better reading defenses.
Mike Kaye: You brought up that you grew up watching Michael Vick. Were you able to watch a lot of Vick play in Philadelphia and play in Chip Kelly's offense? How did that make you feel about potentially playing for the Eagles as well?
Blake Sims: When I saw Michael Vick go to the Eagles, I liked it because I know how the Eagles offense runs. I would love to play there, maybe wear the number 7 just like he did. I think that would be great and it's a big dream of mine. I think Philly would fit me perfectly because I could make a lot of big plays and do a lot of great things (in that offense).
Mike Kaye: What do you say to scouts and fans or coaches who worry about your height? What do you tell them about your game that makes you a more appealing prospect despite being a little bit shorter than the prototypical quarterback?
Blake Sims: The drive that I have, the team player that I am and how big a leader I am. My height in the pocket really doesn't mean anything. I think that I had a lot of first-round pick linemen at the University of Alabama, and if I can make throws around them, I can do it in the NFL.
For the entire interview with Sims, check out this BGN Radio episode. (Tune in at the 29:53 mark)