With two stellar athletes already in Tampa’s backfield, why did the new staff feel the need to use a Third-Round pick on the relatively unknown running back?
It’s been a few weeks since the completion of the 2014 NFL Draft. With that said, more questions have been posed to a large variety of individual team situations than solutions (i.e. Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel in Cleveland, and whether Missouri’s Michael Sam will be the first active openly gay player in the league in St. Louis). One of the more under the radar situations of this year’s draft has to be the curious case of WVU running back, Charles Sims, and whether his fine collection of speed, power, and pass catching abilities will transfer over to the next level to help the new coaching staffs’ general offensive strategy prevail in Tampa Bay.
Sims, the lone standout offensively last season’s 4-8 WVU campaign, was selected with the 69th overall pick in the draft; this coming while more nationally recognized names, such as Auburn’s Tre Mason, and Florida State’s Devonta Freeman, were still available. While last year entailed a long list of challenges for the Houston, TX native, Sims shall face challenges unmatched by anything he’s ever faced on the college level as he now tries to compete for playing time (possibly even a starting job) within the Tampa Bay Buccaneers organization.
Following an equally dismal 4-12 season, the Buccaneers will be entering the 2014 season with a new coach at the helm as former Chicago Bears boss, Lovie Smith, takes over the reins from Greg Schiano following 2 miserable, controversy filled seasons at the position. Joining Smith in Tampa will be his long trusted offensive coordinator, Jeff Tedford, whom of which was with him during his time in the “windy city”. Although Sims was a mid-round pick, a lot of hope has been placed upon the rookie to help sure up what could become one of the more explosive back fields in the entire NFL.
Along with Sims, the Buccaneers will have 3rd year half-backs Bobby Rainey and Doug Martin returning to the backfield this season. Rainey recorded 532 rushing yards, along with 5 touchdowns in 2013, while Martin, recorded an astonishing 1,454 rushing yards in 2012 to break the previous franchise rookie mark of 1,178. However, when it comes to the passing attack, both Martin and Rainey were almost absent, combining for just 23 catches, and 96 yards in 2013. Sims, however, had 45 receptions for 401 yards last year for WVU.
The new staff has often put an emphasis on having a back in the offensive system that not only can run, but also catch passes out of the back field. This is why the Bears, under Smith and Tedford, opted to take a chance on Tulane running back, Matt Forte, with a second-round pick during the 2008 NFL draft. Forte would eventually emerge through a fray of veteran running backs to become the team’s starter in his rookie season, a position in which he still holds today. Although Forte has had fine rushing numbers during the course of his six year career, it’s been his abilities to catch passes, and gain yards following these receptions, that’s helped him become a mainstay in Chicago.
Flash forward to 2014, it looks as though the two coaches are looking for lightning to strike twice as they look to make something out of the gamble on Sims. Coach Smith was quick to justify the selection to members of the media by explaining that “we have an excellent running backs coach that liked Forte when no one else did,” and that following January’s Senior Bowl, Coach Tim Spencer, came away very impressed with what Sims was able to put on display.
Although Charles Sims hasn’t been talked about much on the national stage, you cannot ignore the fact that a major opportunity awaits for him come July, and there’s a fair amount of confidence behind the rookie running back to possibly emerge on to the scene as a major offensive weapon for an organization in transition. 7th overall pick, Texas A&M wide out Mike Evans should help give the rebuilding Tampa Bay offense an instant threat for opposing defensive backs watch out for; a proposition that might ultimately open up play-making possibilities for Sims in his rookie season.