The Buccaneers have a lot of questions surrounding their group of running backs, especially concerning Charles Sims.
My relationship with Buccaneer running back Charles Sims has been a rocky one over the last three years. I vividly remember being at the draft in 2014 when Sims’ name was called in the third round; I booed loudly. The Buccaneers at the time had Doug Martin firmly entrenched as the teams’ starting running back, and I believed that a third round pick on a complimentary runner was a waste. (Side note: I cheered for the Austin Seferian-Jenkins pick, so I was a dumb person in 2014).
Sims missed half of his rookie season with injury and wasn’t spectacular in the time that he played, so I continued to feel justified in my disappointment with the pick. When year two of the Sims experiment arrived my expectations were pretty low, but by mid-season I had begun to feel a change of heart. Sims was showing potential as an electric compliment to Doug Martin and a real weapon in the passing game. On the season he accumulated 51 catches, over a thousand all purpose yards, and four receiving touchdowns. Despite our bad start together in New York, I was beginning to feel the love. It was unfortunately short lived.
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Though Sims continued to show prowess as a pass catcher, his third season looked a lot like his first. He missed a large portion of the season with injury, and was completely ineffective as a runner. Through three up-and-down seasons, Sims and the Buccaneers are at an impasse. What is his potential for improvement as a runner? What is his role for this upcoming season?
The Buccaneers appear to be as confused as the rest of us. They opted not to sign any significant veteran runner in free agency, and waited until the fifth round of the draft to take Jeremy McNichols out of Boise State. By re-signing Jacquizz Rodgers and drafting McNichols, they’ve done just enough to put Sims’ job in jeopardy, while also leaving the door open for him to maintain his third down role.
A lot of commentators and analysts have suggested that the McNichols pick was ominous for Doug Martin, but I contend that it’s more worrisome for Charles Sims. Both Sims and McNichols excel in the passing game thanks to soft hands and good routes, making them obvious competitors for a third down role. Both are apt pass protectors as well, but they’re separated by actual upside as runners. McNichols is going to get a shot at early down work long before Sims is given another chance, which further clouds Sims potential role this season.
With Jacquizz Rodgers and Jeremy McNichols sure to get most of the work during and after Doug Martin’s suspension, might Sims most realistic role this season be as an actual receiver? As you can see in the graphic above, he is among the very best pass catchers at running back in the NFL. Interwoven in his rocky three seasons have been some truly spectacular plays through the air that may tempt Dirk Koetter to split Sims out wide more often in 2017.
Though we can’t be sure yet exactly where Charles Sims fits in next season, it’s extremely unlikely that he doesn’t make the roster. The Bucs have a crowded group, but also an unproven one and it would be foolish to let go of someone like Sims for nothing. What do you think about Sims playing more as a featured pass catcher this season, Bucs fans? Would you prefer to see Sims get another chance as an actual running back? Sound off in the comments and let us know.