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Drafting Charles Sims was a pretty big mistake

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

A rookie running back played in limited games, eight to be exact. His rushing average for his rookie season was 4.9 yards per rush. No fumbles or any fumbles were lost. That is a very good trait.

Another rookie running back played in limited games, eight to be exact. His rushing average for his rookie season was 2.8 yards per rush. Two fumbles and one of those fumbles were lost. In respect to the first rookie mentioned, this rookie does not look too great.

One of these running backs was a third round pick and the other a sixth round pick.

The craziest notion is that both of these running backs belong to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. One was drafted in 2013 and the other 2014.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Rookie Year RB Comparison, Rushing
Year RB GP Att Yds Avg FUM FUML
2013 Mike James 8 60 295 4.9 0 0
2014 Charles Sims 8 66 185 2.8 2 1
GP = Games Played;  Att = Attempts;  Yds = Yards;  FUM = Fumbles;  FUML = Fumbles Lost

Those numbers presented above for Mike James look great, but it may also be skewed by one great game.  So now let us introduce each player's rookie production in terms of Median.

Charles Sims' Rookie Median

2014 Charles Sims Rush Stats
Median, Variance, and Difference
Per Game YPC, in order -0.8, -0.3, 1.2, 2.8, 2.9, 3.7, 3.8, 4.9
Lower Quartile (-0.3 + 1.2)/2 = 0.45
Median (2.8 + 2.9)/2 = 2.85 Mean (Avg) 2.8
Upper Quartile (3.7 + 3.8)/2 = 3.75
Variance of the Box (UQ - LQ) 3.3 Median - Mean difference 0.05

2014 Sims, Box Full Amended

Mike James' Rookie Median

2013 Mike James Rush Stats
Median, Variance, and Difference
Per Game YPC, in order 3.2, 3.5, 3.9, 5.0, 5.6, 8.2
Lower Quartile 3.5
Median (3.9 + 5.0)/2 = 4.45 Mean (Avg) 4.9
Upper Quartile 5.6
Variance of the Box (UQ - LQ) 2.1 Median - Mean difference -0.45

2013 James, Box (amended)

From the median, James' production is almost a half yard less than his average. That median result is still far better than what Sims had produced, over a yard and a half better than Sims' median production. Strictly as a runner, James is a far superior running back than Sims. Also, James had not fumbled the ball in the same amount of attempts as Sims.

Here is a scouting report written up by Nolan Nawrocki of on Charles Sims:


Does not have an ideal build for the position and durability is a concern -- is narrow with a relatively thin lower body. Needs to bulk up. Relatively tall running style. Can do a better job running behind his pads and converting speed to power. Shows some hip tightness. Average tackle breaker (too often grounded by single tacklers). Ran exclusively out of the pistol/shotgun formation. Has very small hands and carries loosely at times. Lacks elite, top-end "wow" speed. Blocking is a question mark. Will be a 24-year-old rookie.


Rounds 4-5


Athletic, competitive, tough, upright slasher who is an asset as a receiver -- hands rate among the best on a RB in recent years. Cannot project as a bellcow, but offers playmaking ability as part of a tandem in a zone scheme. Speed and durability could determine ultimate draft value.

- Nolan Nawrocki

In the analysis presented by Nawrocki, he denoted that Sims was "too often grounded by single tacklers".  We noticed this occurrence when Sims ran for the Bucs, often. This attribute is because Sims runs too tall for a running back which limits his inability to convert speed to power.

Nawrocki aptly specifies Sims' best asset as well as the perfect offensive fit: a playmaking receiver in a zone scheme offense.


Quick-footed with first-step suddenness and short-area burst. Fluid and fast -- accelerates in a hurry and shows speed to the edge. Explosive one-cut ability -- understands how to get downhill. Loose lower body with nice ankle flexion to cut sharply. Flashes ability to spin off contact. Soft hands -- catches easily away from his body (had 70 catches as a freshman and averaged more than 10 yards per catch for his career). Creates after the catch. Hardworking and leads by example.

-  Nolan Nawrocki

Averaging more than 10 yards per catch for his collegiate career is quite eye catching.  In the 2014 offseason, the Bucs had hired Jeff Tedford to be the offensive coordinator to apply zone scheme for team.  Hence, Sims' one-cut ability and pass catching skills would be a jewel to possess in a zone scheme offense.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Rookie Year RB Comparison, Receiving
Year RB GP Rec Tgts Yds Avg FUM FUML
2013 Mike James 8 10 11 43 4.3 0 0
2014 Charles Sims 8 19 27 190 10.0 0 0
Rec = receptions;  Tgts = Targets

As a pass catching running back, Sims carried over that receiving prowess to the NFL.  That is an amazing stat for a running back!

Here are some quotes by GM Jason Licht and head coach Lovie Smith on drafting Sims:

"This one kind of stood out like [Austin Seferian-Jenkins] did," Licht said, after talking about trying to find ways to combine filling need and drafting the best player.

"We felt we wanted one that not only was a good runner, but had size and could catch the ball out of the backfield," Lovie Smith told "We also feel he can split out, he has excellent receiving skills."

Jason Licht called him "the top receiving back in the draft" and noted that he "stuck out" in the third round, and they couldn't pass him up.

These quotes can be found in this Bucs Nation article.  The article is great as it was written just after the draft and assesses the Sims draft choice. I would recommend reading that article as it hits upon so many questions about Sims and surrounding Sims. We fans can take a retrospective look at those quotes, which my article is about retrospect. Sims is not a good runner. Sims has good size, but in short yardarge situations it was Mike James being inserted onto the field. Sims has excellent receiving skills. Receiving is what Sims does well, and not much else.

Do the Tampa Buccaneers have a running back that is just as good as Sims as a pass catcher?

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Rookie Year RB Comparison, Receiving
Year RB GP Rec Tgts Yds Avg FUM FUML
2014 Charles Sims 8 19 27 190 10.0 0 0
2014 Bobby Rainey 15 15 33 315 9.5 2 2
Rec = receptions;  Tgts = Targets

Apparently, the Bucs do possess a pass catching running back similar to Sims in Rainey. Except, Rainey has a tendency to put the ball on the ground more than a coach would like to see.


In the drafting of running back Charles Sims, the organization thought they drafted the next Matt Forte.  A steal in the third round if that is who they thought they drafted!  Sims presented to the Bucs' organization a versatility that the scouting and coaches felt the team needed because none of the present running backs were thought to have possessed.  In retrospect, the Bucs could have utilized that third pick better.

I think Sander sums it best with his introductory paragraph of his article with,

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers used their third-round pick on running back Charles Sims, and the reaction among Buccaneers fans is universally negative. That's not because they think the West Virginia prospect is a bad player: they just realize that adding another running back to a deep group doesn't do much for the Bucs if they don't have guards blocking for them -- and that's still a dominant need for the Bucs.

The organization gambled on a specialized player for the offense, neglecting the elephant in the room about needing an upgrade at guard. One of those guard prospects that was drafted after Sims was Mississippi State's Gabe Jackson, 2013 first team All-SEC selection.

I still do not see why the organization is still enamored with Sims. Is it to deflect the reasoning as to why they drafted the RB over a guard? As of right now, Sims is a one-dimensional back who does not rush very well. It negates the versatility once thought Sims would have presented. It also negates the notion that Sims could be a three down back.

Licht is in charge of the draft.  This third round pick turned out to be a disaster as opposed to being a building block.  Licht was forced to trade TE Tim Wright and a 2015 fourth round pick for New England's Logan Mankins and his hefty salary of over $6 million per year for three years, if the Bucs decide to keep Mankins all three years. That fourth round pick was the second pick overall in the fourth round.

The drafting of Sims is more than missing out on the third round pick. In our situation it neglected the drafting of a potential starting guard, which forced this team to trade away TE Tim Wright and a fourth round pick. Also, we are looking to draft a guard this 2015 NFL draft. In essence, Sims may have cost the Bucs three draft picks.

Sims was a scheme specific draft pick. As a running back, Sims was a bit redundant.  After this season, Rainey can muster the high yards per catch production similar to Sims.  Will Licht learn from this mistake?