Even after nabbing wide receiver Mike Evans in the first round and tight end Austin-Seferian-Jenkins in the second round to bolster their passing game, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers weren’t finished adding weapons in May’s draft for new starting quarterback Josh McCown to work with. The next addition, in the third round, came in the form of a running back, but not just any running back.
West Virginia‘s Charles Sims entered May’s draft as one of the most natural and lethal receiving-back prospects in recent memory. His route-running prowess and soft hands drew favorable comparisons to Matt Forte of the Chicago Bears. If that comparison ever materializes, front offices around the league are going to be kicking themselves for letting Sims slip into the third round.
However, Sims isn’t exclusively a receiving back. He possess plenty of potential as a runner as well. Utilizing a quick first step and impressive fluidity, Sims is more than capable of contributing on early downs in addition to becoming the Buccaneers’ third-down back.
But just how many carries will he be able to steal from the starter, Doug Martin? A promising young player, Martin was one of the NFL‘s most productive runners as a rookie in 2012. His 2013 campaign was cut short by a shoulder injury, but all indications are he’s now healthy and ready to pick up where he left off as Tampa Bay’s workhorse; only in 2014, the Buccaneers are expected to feature more of a one-two punch at running back.
Doing so, if done right, will not only enhance the productivity of the club’s running game, but Martin’s durability and long-term longevity. Although he’ll have to earn it, with other capable backs like Mike James, Bobby Rainey and Jeff Demps on the roster, there’s no reason why Sims can’t become Martin’s sidekick.
He’ll need to display consistency as a runner, receiver and blocker in training camp and the preseason to pull it off, but Sims has the highest ceiling among the backups, and should be given the opportunity to thrive with a sizable complementary role as a rookie.
Running back is one of the easiest positions to play at a high level immediately for rookies who have the skill set and hunger to excel at the professional level. Sims seemingly has what it takes to make a relatively effortless jump from college to the pros.
If he can piece together an impressive summer, earning the coaching staff’s trust, Sims should help equip the Buccaneers with a more dynamic passing and running game in 2014.
Cody Strahm is an NFL Senior Writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @CodyJStrahm.