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10 Most Important Bears of 2017: #8 Is Dion Sims ready to break out?

For the 9th straight year, I'm bringing you who I believe will be the ten most important Chicago Bears for the upcoming season. At #8, free agent pick up, Dion Sims.

NFL: New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Last year the Chicago Bears got decent production from the tight end position. The five guys that lined up there amassed 71 catches, 672 yards, and five touchdowns. Zach Miller was their number one tight end, but the injury bug bit him again, and he only appeared in 10 games. Miller, who has never played in all 16 games in his career, will turn 33 this October, so the Bears had to strengthen the position. They did so by drafting Adam Shaheen in the second round, but prior to that, they gave $10 million guaranteed to former Miami Dolphin, Dion Sims.

While I think Shaheen, eventually, has the potential to be a dynamic tight end, Sims is the guy that the Bears will lean on in 2017 to man the position. He’s a three down in-line player, that Dolphins’ head coach Adam Gase didn’t want to lose. Gase called it a “tough loss,” and before Sims signed with the Bears, Gase had a plan in place for Sims in 2017. “I think Dion did exactly what we needed him to do (in 2016). I think we held him back a little bit and didn’t let him do some of the things that he probably could have done more of.” Gase said via the Palm Beach Post. “We’ll see what goes on moving forward. I’ve got an idea of what we want to do. There’s a good plan in place.”

Last year, Sims played in 74% of Miami’s offensive snaps, making 11 starts in 14 games. The 26 year old Sims, caught a career high 26 balls, for 256 yards, with 4 touchdowns.

With the Bears placing an even bigger emphasis on their running game this year, they need a tight end they can count on, and Sims (6’4”, 271) is a good run blocker. Sims is also a skilled pass blocker, so staying in to help out on occasion will be in the cards for him.

When the Bears go to a double tight end offense, look for Sims to always be the in-line guy. He’s not comfortable flexed or split out, but between Shaheen, Miller and Daniel Brown, the Bears have other guys that can fill the Joker (move) tight end role.

If the Bears are able to get running back Jordan Howard going, forcing teams to play eight in the box, sneaking Sims out on play action plays could be a huge part of the offense this season.

I’m predicting a carer year for Sims as a receiver, plus his blocking will be better than anything the Bears had at the position last year.

I spoke with Kevin Nogle, Managing Editor of SB Nation’s The Phinsider, to get his thoughts on Sims.

Dion Sims is a solid, all-around tight end who has been developing into a decent pass-catcher over the past couple of years. He had a major concussion in Week 1 of the 2015 season, which really seemed to slow his progress once he was fully recovered. That was expected to be a breakout year for him, and it never materialized. He gets the reputation of being a "blocking" tight end because of his size, but he really is a solid all-around guy who can get out there and make possession type of catches for the Bears, and he will probably make some great plays spread throughout the year. At 26 years old, there is still plenty of potential there to develop as well.