Charles Sims can accomplish more than just being the first West Virginia running back selected in the NFL Draft in five years next Thursday. The former First Team All-Big 12 player possesses more than enough talent to eclipse the rookie campaign of most recent West Virginia running back selected in the draft, Steve Slaton.
It will be no easy task for Sims to complete this coming season.
In 2008, Slaton would account for 1282 rushing yards, 377 receiving yards and 10 total touchdowns in one of the best rookie running back seasons in NFL history. However, Houston would go on to finish the franchise’s seventh season with an 8-8 record and third place in the AFC South.
While the two running backs were featured in two different eras of the Mountaineer football program, there are similarities between Sims and Slaton.
The final stats of the two running backs’ collegiate careers show to be very similar as Sims ended with just 458 yards and 10 touchdown fewer than Slaton. It wouldn’t be much of a stretch for Sims to post the same type of numbers that Slaton produced if he were in a running offense like that of Rich Rodriguez instead of an Air Raid offense in Houston.
There are several factors that could lead Sims to duplicating Slaton’s impact in his rookie season, specifically for the Tennessee Titans.
Tennessee plays one of the easiest NFL schedules in regards to strength of schedule, as AFC South rival Indianapolis is the only team with an easier slate of games this coming season. Sims will also be aided in a quest to surpass Slaton’s rookie season with only seven games against teams ranked in the top 10 against the run last year.
With the departure of Chris Johnson to the New York Jets, Shonn Greene and Dexter McCluster are on top of the Tennessee depth chart with their abilities to pound the ball between the tackles and making catches in space, respectively. With showcasing both of those abilities in his time at Houston and West Virginia, Sims could fill both of these roles as one person for Tennessee.
Slaton was promoted to starting running back for Houston in game two of his rookie season, which could end up being the same situation for Sims.
Tennessee has six picks in the upcoming NFL Draft in which they could select Sims, but they are without a third round pick, the projected round where Sims will selected according to pundits. The possibility of Sims being selected with a second round pick might be an overreach, but being selected with the 12th pick of the fourth round would be ideal.
Sims has all of the intangibles to be a playmaker for Tennessee. It’s just the waiting game to see if he’ll get a chance to show off those abilities on an NFL Sunday.