Free Agency 2012: A "Little-Known" Free Agent That Could Impact Cincinnati's Defense

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 1: Pat Sims #90 of the Cincinnati Bengals makes a tackle against Donald Brown #31 of the Indianapolis Colts during the first half of an NFL preseason game at Paul Brown Stadium on September 1, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Though Bengals safety Reggie Nelson is otherwise one of the better-known free agents that will be available on March 13, with projected suitors already expected to pound the free agency gates, Pete Prisco with CBSSports.com writes about another little-known free agent that he likes. Bengals defensive tackle Pat Sims:

He is a load at 335 pounds and has shown flashes of being a quality player at times. Injuries have slowed him some. But he's only 26 years old and power players like him are hard to find. He has 23 starts in four seasons.

Though Sims, one of Cincinnati's third-round selections during the 2008 NFL Draft and 77th overall out of Auburn, is a massive load, he graded as average (according to Pro Football Focus) against the run during Cincinnati's playoff run in 2011 before suffering two ankle injuries -- one against the cleveland Browns and another during practice the following week -- that sidelined him for the rest of the season.

That being said... Cincinnati's rush defense ranked fifth in the NFL, allowing 92.7 yards rushing per game after Cincinnati's second win over the Cleveland Browns, which became Sims' final game last year. In the six games after that, including Cincinnati's 31-10 playoff loss to the Houston Texans, the Bengals rush defense allowed 140.5 yards rushing per game.

We're not making a direct connect, but it's fairly noticeable to ignore.

Prisco did mention Nelson as well, writing:

He was considered a bust in Jacksonville as a first-round pick. Part of that was because he didn't put the work in to be a good player. He's changed. He's matured. And he has become a better player. In a league where range matters, Nelson has it. He isn't a great tackler, but he has improved there as well. With safety being a weak position in the draft, Nelson should get a lot of attention.

Not expectedly, Prisco mentions five free agents he'd be cautious about, writing about Bengals running back Cedric Benson.

In the past two seasons, Benson had per-carry averages of 3.5 yards and 3.9 yards. That's not good enough in a league where explosive plays matter. He also will turn 30 in December. He is more of a grinder for a team looking for a second back. I just don't see explosive ability. And when you watched the Bengals, that always seemed to show up when he was in the game. The run game didn't scare anybody.

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