After a career where he earned his bachelor’s degree for the Houston Cougars, running back Charles Sims became one of the hotter prospects in college football after he ultimately decided not to declare for the supplemental NFL Draft. After taking visits and being recruited by a number of schools, Sims decided to pursue a Master’s Degree and play another year of football for West Virginia under head coach Dana Holgerson.
While a Mountaineer, Sims got the opportunity to do just about everything in the offense from being the their main running back, being a big receiving threat out of the backfield and having the opportunity to block to show a fully developed set of skills for the NFL. While the overall season was a relative disappointment for the Mountaineers in the standings, Sims did have a great season.
Sims has a lot of technical ability and physical talent that makes him stand out as a fit in the NFL. He has vision, balance and the ability to set up opponents with cuts and finish runs with power. Sims has shown he can be an effective receiving threat and shows the foundation to be an effective blocker, so he should be able to be an early contributor. The big question with Sims seems to be how quickly he attacks the hole and whether that is a real issue or a blip on the radar. Sims projects as a third day pick, but should be a back that is able to play early and could be a surprise next year, but his overall potential appears relatively limited and what teams see is what they get.
Vitals & Build
Sims is listed at 6’ 213lbs with a solid build for the position. He has good balance, body control and agility. Sims has good functional strength but it is somewhat subtle in how he uses it to his advantage. One question mark for Sims is going to be his speed and acceleration. Sims is by no means slow but there are questions to whether or not he really has a second gear. His potential is largely just finding where his weight is at its best to maximize his physical ability. Sims might be better served to continue getting a little bigger and stronger if his speed is ultimately maxed out and seeing if he can maintain it while getting closer to 220lbs.
The West Virginia offensive scheme is a zone blocking scheme that allows the running back quite a bit of freedom when it comes to picking their running lanes, setting up blocks and getting opponents to miss. Sims has good vision, does a good job of diagnosing where the best spot is going to be to make a run and doing his best to maximize the run.
Sims does a great job with cuts, plants his foot in the ground and makes dynamic movements. He is able to read blocks and set opponents up with them. One area where he really excels is in his ability to set up opponents to miss from several yards away, even in the open field. Sims does a nice job of anticipating when defenders are coming from down the field and is able to plan for them, so he can either avoid them entirely or at least make it so he avoid a big hit and keep his momentum going forward.
Sims’ jump cuts and more subtle cuts stand out as that is how he tends to make opponents miss. He has some wiggle in the open field as well, but Sims also demonstrates power. Sims is not someone who is going to make too many plays by bulldozing opponents, but he really does a nice job of falling forward, getting behind his pads, and dragging opponents to get extra yardage on runs. He also has good balance and has extended runs by being able to catch himself with a hand or just finding his balance and continuing the run.
One of the things that stands out about Sims is how quickly he hits the hole. Much of the time, he is pretty slow pressing the hole and attacking the line of scrimmage. There are times where he is explosive and hits quickly, but he gets hit in the backfield quite a bit because defenders have time to read his move and get there before he is able to attack the line of scrimmage. Some of this could be due to the fact that Mountaineer offensive line had some struggles and Sims was anticipating having to make opponents miss in the backfield, but he needs to be more consistent in this area and hit the hole faster. Sims has shown the ability to do so but his overall speed is not overwhelming so there is a small bit of concern when it comes to this area. Some may call it patience and he certainly has patience, but there are times when he has made his decision and still needs to get there quicker.
Sims has shown he can make big runs with speed and been a home run threat during his time in Morgantown, but there are questions as to how viable his long speed is when it comes to the NFL. The fact that he may not be a threat to break an 80+ yard run is hardly a problem if he can break off a number of 10+ to 20+ yard runs and keep finding them.
Sims has shown he is willing to run the ball between the tackles and is willing to attack outside and cut back into the field. He will occasionally infatuated with trying to break things to the outside and even turning his shoulders square to the sideline after getting to the second level, which is something he should look to avoid. That is not a great idea for almost any back, but his strength is a real asset and going laterally helps the defense. Sims is at his best when he makes a great cut that has him square hi shoulder and run straight down the field.
In terms of his overall ability to run the football, the big question facing Sims is how much of an issue is his ability to hit the hole. If that is deemed to be a matter of blocking issues or a correctable problem, he should be an effective back. Should it be deemed a real problem, it could be an issue that has dramatic impact on his draft stock and he should work to improve it.
Route Running & Technique
Sims has a lot of experience running a number of different routes. He was not limited to simple screens or dump off type passes. They had him run a lot of play action that had him extend his run into a screen, a swing route or a more aggressive route down the field.
Sims has shown some nuance to how he runs routes. He would change up how he would run a route, trying to set up opponents and create opportunities. Sims has shown the ability to plant his foot in the ground to make a cut to open up a route. He can continue to work on how he runs his routes, but he has a good foundation going to the next level.
Sims is not afraid to catch the ball with his hands and is comfortable in doing it, while setting up where he is going to make his next move. He does a great job of taking quick passes and swings like an extended toss where he can approach them like a running play.
Sims does have experience catching the ball with his back to the defense and has shown he can be an asset in the passing game, showing that he can not only catch the football, but gain yardage after the catch.
Sims has been used both in pass protection and as a lead blocker. As a lead blocker, Sims has made it pretty clear he will not be a fullback at the next level. Sims took poor angles, did not give a ton of effort and had trouble moving opponents off of the spot of making a real impact.
In pass protection, Sims was inconsistent. He has shown that when he gets in position and uses his hands well, he can shut down opposing pass rushers both inside and on the outside. Sims did a good job in obvious passing situations where he was going to be blocking right from the snap, both in his position and his effort. He had a little more trouble at times when he was executing play action and trying to find the right spot. Sims would occasionally find himself lost in space or simply out of position in that area.
One of the challenges with West Virginia’s offense for a back is how many times they want their back to chip effectively on their way to running a delayed release route. In that area, Sims had some trouble finding the balance between getting a good chip to help out his teammate while being able to get out into his route. He has usually opted to try to maximize the route which is not always enough for his teammate to lock down the block. Sims usually went with a shoulder in those situations as opposed to just getting a good chuck with arms extended to help stop the rusher’s momentum.
Sims really fits well in a zone blocking scheme because of his vision and patience. He has a good understanding of reading defenses and having a good sense of where he needs to go, seeing the hole and going there. He has shown he can work in an offense that wants to their backs to be able to help as a receiver and backs as well. Sims could play in a more prescribed offensive scheme in terms of the running game, but it might not be as good of a fit.
Sims looks like he would be a great complementary back as part of a stable and while he could ultimately lead the group and be a starter, he might start out as a change of pace back that can do a little of everything.
The best complement for Sims might be Donald Brown of the Indianapolis Colts. While Brown has never lived up to his draft slot in the first round since coming out of Connecticut, every time the team tries to replace him, he keeps floating to the top. Brown has not been a dominant back, but he is able to do a little bit of everything in terms of being able to run the ball, block and provided some relief as a receiver. That could be the type of player Sims becomes.
Charles Sims has been a productive back in his college career and seems to understand what the position demands. He knows how to run effectively even if he does it without looking terribly flashy while doing it. Sims does a good job of getting the most of opportunities and not leaving yards on the field when it comes to avoiding big hits and fighting through contact. He can contribute as a receiver and a blocking, but there is a question with how quickly he hits the hole and that could limit how effective he can be in the NFL. Sims projects as a day three pick and appears to be ready to play now but may not have a ton of additional upside.
Some of the film used in this scouting breakdown was provided by the good folks at draftbreakdown.com