Tampa Bay ended the second day of the 2014 NFL Draft by adding West Virginia running back Charles Sims in the third round, which was a bit of a surprise. Sims becomes the third offensive player drafted by the Buccaneers this year after Tampa Bay selected Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans and Washington tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins in the first and second rounds, respectively.
“Charles is a very explosive athlete,” Bucs general manager Jason Licht said. “He’s got great hands – that was a point of emphasis. Brings us a back that not only has 4.4-4.6 speed as a runner but also as a receiver.”
The 6-foot, 213-pound Sims reminds some of Bears running back Matt Forte, who was drafted by Bucs head coach Lovie Smith in Chicago, due to his versatility.
“Most people would say Matt Forte,” Sims said. “I have seen him play quite a bit, so I would say Matt Forte.”
Sims, who was a PewterReport.com Bucs’ Best Bet at the running back position, excels in the passing game as a receiver and a pass protector, and really stood out in that area at the Senior Bowl.
“I think I am a pretty good pass blocker,” Sims said. “I think I have a few things I think I need to work which is technique, but I think I am a pretty good pass blocker.”
Sims becomes an ideal third-down back in a crowded Tampa Bay running back stable that already features Doug Martin, Bobby Rainey, who led the Bucs in rushing last year, Jeff Demps and Mike James, who is still recovering from a broken ankle.
“This guy is the top receiving back in the draft we felt,” Licht said. “I always feel like you can’t have enough backs, especially when they have personal skill sets. So far, we’re very excited about today’s draft, so far, as it’s unfolded.”
Sims, who started his career in Houston before transferring to West Virginia after he graduated with a health degree, is a great zone runner with good burst and acceleration through the hole. With 4.48 speed in the 40-yard dash, Sims is a shifty and patient runner with short-area quickness to make defenders miss and get to the second level.
In his three years at Houston, Sims rushed for 2,370 yards and 29 touchdowns on 384 carries (6.2 avg.). His best season came in 2012 when he rushed for 851 yards and 11 touchdowns in just nine games. After transferring to West Virginia, Sims rushed for 1,095 yards and 11 touchdowns on 208 carries (5.3 avg.) in 2013.
The athletic Sims, who has a 37.5-inch vertical leap, was a wide receiver in high school, and the Bucs believe he had the best hands in the draft of any running back. In Jeff Tedford’s new offense, the running backs are heavily involved in the passing game.
At Houston, Sims had 158 catches for 1,707 yards and eight touchdowns, including a 70-catch, 759-yard freshman year. In his lone season with the Mountaineers in 2013, he caught 45 passes for 401 yards and three scores.
“He’s very effective on third down, but he also has a first- and second-down skill set, too.” Licht said. “So when you can find a back that has all three versatility to play on all three downs, it’s a rarity now a days.”
At the age of 24 and armed with a college degree, Sims brings a great deal of maturity to the Buccaneers. Smith, a native of Big Sandy, Texas, loves football players from the state of Texas, and Sims was born in Houston.
Scott Reynolds is in his 22nd year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds enjoys giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: email@example.com
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