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New Packers TE Ben Sims brings added speed and blocking experience to position

New Green Bay Packers tight end Ben Sims brings blocking experience from his time at Baylor and more athleticism to Green Bay’s already young position group.

At roughly 11:00 AM on Wednesday, Sims was sitting in the Minnesota Vikings facility, about to enter a team meeting with the expectation that he was going to be on the practice squad after being released the day before. However, by 4:00 PM that same day, Sims was instead arriving in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

“A little surprising to be honest,” said Sims on Thursday about being a Packer. “I was in a practice squad meeting with Minnesota yesterday (Wednesday) at like 11:00 AM and I get pulled out of it because we are about to go through the process of that, and I get a text, and one of our player personnel people were like you just got claimed off waivers, you got to go. And I was like, where am I going? They said I was coming to Green Bay. So I grabbed my truck, packed my bags and drove here yesterday.”

GM Brian Gutekunst told the media two weeks ago that the team would keep their eyes on the waiver wire at the tight end position following roster cuts. With Tyler Davis suffering a season-ending ACL injury, the Packers were not only thin from a numbers standpoint at tight end , but also lost their best blocker at the position as well.

The 6-5, 250-pound Sims went undrafted out of Baylor this past spring. He comes to the NFL with ample blocking experience and recorded one of the faster 40 yard dash times at the tight end position during the pre-draft process as well, running a 4.58 at his Pro-Day—which is actually faster than what Luke Musgrave posted at the NFL Combine, running a 4.61.

“Ben’s a guy we brought in here for a (top) 30 visit,” said Gutekunst. “Another big guy, an athlete who can run very fast. What he was able to do in the last three weeks up in Minnesota, he really improved his game in some areas that gave us a lot of confidence to put that claim in.”

Sims had nearly 1,000 snaps as a run-blocker at Baylor, and in his final two seasons, played in a pro-style offense that uses the wide-zone running scheme, similarly to Green Bay. As a pass-catcher, he hauled in 74 of his 105 career attempts with 11 touchdowns. About one-third of his career snaps came lined up in the slot, along with another 366 on special teams.

“My last two years, was fortunately a pro-style guy, Jeff Grimes came in from BYU,” added Sims. “Really introduced the pro-style with the wide zone, the mid-zone, tight zone, and everything that comes with it, allowing to play fast. My transition has been smooth for the most part, a lot of familiar things that I’ve seen so far, which is comforting because if you understand concepts you can apply them in different situations. So I’m really pleased with my prior knowledge of this offense.”

With Minnesota this preseason, 80 percent of Sims’ snaps came in-line, although, along with playing from the slot, he saw a few snaps out wide as well. He caught three passes and flashed some big play potential with his speed, averaging 17.7 yards per catch. He also steadily improved as a blocker, which may have been what Gutekunst was referencing to, and ranked sixth out of 28 eligible tight ends in PFF’s run-blocking grade during that final game.

“That’s a good learning experience,” said Sims, “my first couple NFL games. I had some good moments and had some moments of improvement. But I was pleased with the way I was coached. I was pleased with the guys, the older (tight end) group in Minnesota, they let me lean on them a lot. So I was really fortunate to have a group of vets that really helped me and go out of there way to be there for me”

Sims will have his hands full right away as he tries to learn a new playbook on the fly, although he did mention that there was some overlap with Minnesota’s. Right away, Sims can take some snaps as the more traditional in-line blocking tight end, but with his athleticism, he certainly has the upside and the ability to make plays in the passing game.

Along with Tucker Kraft and Luke Musgrave, Sims could provide an all-around skill set at the tight end position for the Packers, able to impact both the running and passing games. This was an element that was missing in previous years and adds some unpredictability to the Green Bay offense with it being difficult for defenses to decipher what it taking place pre-snap and it will also help create mismatches, and not only at the tight end position, with Matt LaFleur able to call a variety of plays from just a few personnel packages.

With that said, Sims is still a rookie just like Musgrave and Kraft, and an undrafted one at that. As LaFleur has shared often this offseason, the transition from college to the NFL at tight end is one of the more difficult jumps there is, given all the responsibilities that come with this role. However, Sims previous experience as a blocker in college will give him a way to make an immediate impact, along with bringing some more athleticism and upside to the passing game.

“Obviously there’s going to be ups, there’s going to be downs,” said Sims. “But just going back everyday and don’t be corrected twice on the same mistake and I kind of take that personally, because if I don’t, it shows that I’m not listening or shows I don’t care, and obviously I want to do both. Going one day at a time, learning, growing and eventually I’ll be to where I want to be.”

Story originally appeared on Packers Wire