If it wasn't obvious before Jason Snelling's retirement announcement, it is now: the Falcons could use more depth at running back.
Clearly the team agrees with this statement to some extent, with reports surfacing that scouts have worked out a handful of running back prospects including Devonta Freeman, De'Anthony Thomas and Terrance West. One other name not included on that list who could be in play for the Falcons, given their reported interest at the Senior Bowl, is an experienced, productive back out of the Big 12. He is...
Charles Sims, RB, West Virginia
Weight: 214 lbs.
40-yd dash: 4.48
Bench reps: 17
Broad jump: 126 in.
2013 (WVU): 1,095 yards rushing (5.26 YPC), 11 rush TD, 401 yards receiving, 3 TD
2012 (HOU): 846 yards rushing (5.96 YPC), 11 rush TD, 373 yards receiving, 3 TD
2011 (HOU): 821 yards rushing (7.46 YPC), 9 rush TD, 575 yards receiving, 4 TD
**Sims began his college career at Houston but transferred for his final year of eligibility
Games watched: Baylor and TCU (2013), Penn State (2011).
At 6'0 and 214, Sims is taller and leaner than most running backs you'll come across. His measurables are certainly not off the charts, but on film he shows great short-range burst coming out of the backfield and has the speed to turn the corner and get upfield. Has impressive cutting ability in the open field and can make defenders miss at the second level.
The concern with Sims is whether his speed will translate to the NFL game and allow him to still reach the edge consistently. Though he does a good job of keeping his legs moving or spinning off defenders at first contact, he doesn't stay low when he runs nor does he generate all that much power behind his hits. As a result, he won't shrug off the first man to hit him too often.
Sims' hands are a weapon for him. He is not only consistent at hauling in passes, but he also does a great job of making plays after the catch when given space. He's been quite productive in this area throughout his college career (70 catches as a freshman) and clearly appears comfortable when his number is called on a slip screen or swing pass. The Mountaineers even lined him up out wide on a couple of occasions, and his route-running was none too shabby. All in all a plus area for Sims.
Sims isn't exactly a standout in this area, but he can hold his own. From what I saw, he has a decent sense of where his help is needed on a given play and when to pick up a blitzer. He's not afraid to throw himself in front a bigger guy either. Where Sims could use work is in his actual blocking technique: he needs better leverage and hand placement.
Sims has above-average vision coming out of the backfield. His cuts are decisive and instinctive, he'll be patient when the need arises and he can find the cutback lane. Ball security is sound, but he could stand to hold the ball a little higher and tighter at times. From what I've read and know second-hand, he kept his nose out of trouble off the field and displayed a good work ethic and attitude while with both schools.
Sims was a significant offensive contributor across four seasons and brings a wealth of experience that should make his transition to the NFL a smooth and painless one. I would not be surprised to see him contributing as a rookie. However, the tread on his tires (592 career carries, 203 career catches) may be of some concern as could West Virginia's offensive scheme, which mostly saw Sims take handoffs out of the pistol and shotgun. Houston's offensive attack was notably pass-oriented in the Case Keenum era.
Sims may not be the best in any one area, but he is above-average in several. He is versatile and a bit more polished than your typical college running back. He's not going to break many tackles, but he also won't hurt you by making poor cuts or trying to do too much. He'll get upfield and he can be an asset as a receiver.
Sometimes, that's all a team will want. I feel like his celing is somewhat limited given his body type and I doubt he'll ever be a 3-down back. But as a 4th or 5th-round pick that can contribute as a rookie, Sims doesn't sound bad at all.
See for yourself (courtesy of Draft Breakdown)
What say you, dear readers? Sound off on Charles Sims and his potential fit with the Falcons.