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Let’s continue our exploration of NFL rookies and discuss the athletic Charles Sims.  He isn’t your typical back as he is taller, 6’, and leaner, 205 lbs., than most backs (played closer to 215 in college).  Don’t be fooled by his adequate 40 yard simstime of 4.55 as he plays much quicker with tremendous lateral explosion.  The 23-year-old back spent last season playing for West Virginia after playing his first three college seasons with Houston.

Many draftniks are comparing him to Matt Forte as they both are good receivers as well as runners, but Sims is a bit stiffer in the hips and is a step slower.  That shouldn’t stop any dynasty owner from considering him though.  I reviewed four of Sims’ 2013 games against Baylor, TCU, Oklahoma State, and William and Mary as well as his Senior Bowl practices and game play in Mobile this year.

This runner is a complete three down back.  Sims may not be the best inside runner, or be the quickest guy on the field, but he can play in any down and any situation.  Many times in the NFL, the personnel that you have on the field will dictate how a defense decides how to protect the field.  When Sims is out there, the offense can scheme to do anything.

The first obstacle a running back faces is how well they can pass protect; because in the NFL, quarterbacks are the keys to winning championships.  Sims is the best pass blocker in his class and it is not close.  He steps up, squares his shoulders, while remaining balanced when engaging blitzers.  In every blocking drill I saw him take part in Mobile, and every passing play I watched him participate in, the running back kept his defender away from the quarterback.  This delight and skill in blocking is a rare trait for a rookie.  West Virginia played some multiple back sets and Sims would be very effective as a lead blocker for another running back by getting control of his man while driving him back.  He is also great at selling fake handoffs which freezes the defense for a second or two, giving receivers down the field a little more time to create separation.

Sims is an amazing receiver as well.  Out of the passes thrown to him, I believe there were only two out of a hundred that got into his body.  He plucks the ball out of the air in stride and can be downright scary on a wheel route.  The runner tracks the ball well in the air and can make adjustments deep down the field to make difficult receptions.  The last back that looked as natural catching the ball was Marshall Faulk.  Sims is far behind Faulk in all around skill set, but not necessarily in style of play.  He was sometimes sent in motion as an outside receiver just like Faulk was when he was playing with Warner, Holt, and Bruce. The former Mountaineer snares the ball well in traffic and outmatched most linebackers or safeties that attempts to cover him.

As a runner, Sims is quite shifty who always seemed to make the first man miss.  He is very dangerous in open space as he has a quick burst and can explode when he sees an opening.  It’s his quick agility and foot frequency.  He likes to sell the defender on a head shake while his lower body is going somewhere else.  Depending on the situation, Sims might get away with a spin move, stiff-arm, or just swat the defender away.  He uses his excellent downfield vision following his blockers down the field and he has been known to bounce off one of their hips to create a crease on the gridiron. Other than Lache Seastrunk, I would say Sims is one of the swiftest runners to be able to reverse their field without slowing down.  It’s that scary explosion that lets him burst down the sideline for a 40 yard gain when you least expect it.

He can get away from danger with a quick jump cut or he might hurdle over someone to get to the needed yard marker. Running outside is one of his biggest strengths.  Hopefully, Sims will find himself on a team that likes to run draws and counters which will help create more separation between him and the defenses he faces. He finds a way create good angles by quickly starting and stopping, allowing the defenders to fly right past him.

When it comes to running inside, Sims can be effective if he keeps his feet chopping, gets low in the hole and generates power with his hips.  He doesn’t give defenders much to hit despite his 6’ height.  It’s the combination of his strong legs, and good balance that demands would-be tacklers aim for his midsection. Otherwise, he can break away from attempts trying to bring him down that are made too high or too low. Sims seems to find a way to fall forward on every carry, fighting for each yard.  Sims protects the ball quite well as he keeps two hands on it anytime he is going down.  It’s his nose for the end zone that will intrigue dynasty fantasy owners.  Sims shows extra effort and push when near the goal line.

What some of you are asking yourself is, “if he is so good, why isn’t anyone talking about him?”  Sims transferred from a high-powered Houston offense that didn’t feature the run to West Virginia that did not have much of an offensive line.  Despite all that he managed to account for over 1,500 combined yards and 14 touchdowns in limited action.  The back has over 200 career college receptions and is this rookie class’ best pass blocker.  He will find a home in the NFL and be a productive back, but he doesn’t have that wow factor.  Perhaps that will make him a second round rookie draft value.

For further questions or comments, you can reach me at @AndrewMiley or @Dynasty_Blitz on Twitter.

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