College players are oftentimes drafted to teams in which don’t really know how to use them. But every once in a while, teams get it right.
Players that come to mind are players like Tom Brady in New England, Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay and Adrian Peterson in Minnesota. All three of those guys embody the team they’re playing for. When you think of the Patriots, you think of a deadly QB who can put the ball where he wants it and methodically lead the team down the field. When you think of Green Bay, you think of a gunslinger who leads his team up from the depths on a fourth-quarter deficit. And when you think of the Vikings, you think of a ground and pound, wear-you-out type of offense.
Following the same pattern, the two rookies from West Virginia who were drafted can become the embodiment of their new teams.
First, there’s Charles Sims.
When you look at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, you look at head coach Lovie Smith, offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford and running backs coach Tim Spencer’s success with running backs in the past.
Tedford, who spent 11 seasons at Cal, produced Marshawn Lynch. Lynch came out of the gate firing for Buffalo in the NFL, rushing for 1,115 yards and seven touchdowns during his rookie season. Since, Lynch has rushed for over 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns in each of the past three seasons. He’s amassed 7,389 yards and 58 touchdowns on the ground during his eight-year career.
And then there’s his pass catching ability.
Lynch has caught more than 20 passes each season except for two and has 202 career receptions for 1,532 yards and five scores.
From there of course you have Smith and Spencer’s success with Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte.
Forte, like Lynch, has been a staple in the NFL since his draft date. During his rookie season, Forte ran for 1,238 yards and caught 63 passes. He was one of only eight rookies in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards and catch 50 passes. Forte also became the first Bears player to produce 1,000 yards from scrimmage during each of his first five seasons in the NFL. And that’s the same offense which boasts players such as Walter Payton and Gale Sayers.
With the history that these offensive coaches has, Sims may just be in the best situation of any rookie running back.
And defensive end Will Clarke might be in the same boat when it comes to defensive ends.
Cincinnati’s defensive line coach Jay Hayes has a rich history of success in the NFL. Last season the Bengals had three different players on the defensive line win AFC Defensive Player of the Week awards, making it only the seventh time since 1984 that one team has had three different players from the same position group take the honors.
Hayes’ defensive linemen had 40.0 sacks last season with both Michael Johnson and Geno Atkins reaching career marks.
Under Hayes, the Bengals are known for having a deep group when it comes to the defensive line spot, rotating seven or eight players during any particular game.
That, mixed with defensive coordinator Paul Guenther’s ability to mold his linebackers into pure tacklers, Clarke should have no problem adapting to playing either position.
With both Sims and Clarke being in picture perfect situations it seems, it wouldn’t surprise anyone if both of them make immediate impacts and find success with their new teams.