This past February, our latest "Introduction to Scouting" class was taught by Greg Gabriel. Over the next few weeks, we'll be featuring the best scouting reports from the graduates. If you would like to join the next session, it begins May 19th, and runs for six weeks. You'll learn a high level of scouting knowledge from one of the most seasoned vets of the industry, Greg Gabriel, whose scouting career spanned 29 seasons. Register at nfpscout.com.
Charles Sims: West Virginia (6'0", 215)
STRENGTHS: He shows excellent balance and body control. He has good vision and shows patience to allow his blocks to happen. He reads his blocks well, especially in the outside zone game and the screen game. He's quick to get to the edge where he is most successful. He can plant his foot in the ground, get vertical, and make perimeter defenders miss. He lacks tremendous quickness, but can get out on the edge when he sees the hole open up. In the open field, he has the ability to stop on the dime and change direction, which makes him a very tough back to open-field tackle. Once he makes the first tackler miss, he has the ability to get to the next gear and get to top speed quickly, which led to a lot of his big gains at West Virginia. He is also a willing and able pass and run blocker with room for improvement. In the passing game, he has very reliable hands and shows a level of comfort catching the ball. He catches the ball using his hands and uses his body well when shielding off defenders. He wasn't asked to run a variety of routes in college, but excelled in all facets of the pass game. He has the ability to make short screen passes into long gains because of his ability to cut and make a defender miss on the outside. He was used in the pass game more at Houston than West Virginia, but showed natural ability to contribute both as a blocker and as a route runner in the passing game.
WEAKNESSES: He needs to add size to his frame, particularly in his lower body. He is often tackled by an individual defender due to his undersized lower body. His feet have a tendency to stop moving when a defender goes to tackle him, which doesn't allow him to get many yards after first contact. He runs high, leaving him susceptible to a big hit or even a fumble. He has relatively small hands, which leads to ball security concerns. When running between the tackles, he is a little too patient for a hole to open up, which results in a lot of little to no gains. He's hesitant to find the hole, which is something that will need to improve if he wants to become an every down back in the NFL. Although he is a willing blocker, he needs to attack defenders more aggressively and keep leverage by lowering his hips and widening his base in order for teams to trust him enough to play on third down.
SUMMATION: Shows a dynamic ability to make people miss on the perimeter. Can be a dependable back out of the backfield in the passing game and will make perimeter defenders miss, resulting in big gains. He played in a "Run-and-Shoot" system at Houston and a "Pistol" formation Spread Offense at West Virginia, which would make him a nice prospect for a team with a zone-blocking scheme. He runs a bit too tall, which will lead to ball security issues and big hits in the NFL. He lacks tremendous straight line speed, but has plenty of quickness and shiftiness to succeed in the NFL. He can move well laterally, change direction and make people miss on the outside, but lacks the bulk in the lower body to run between the tackles in short yardage situations and break tackles.
STRENGTHS: H/W/S specimen and fine athlete. Ideal size/speed combination for an all-purpose back. No notable durability issues… Home run hitter when he gets into the open field. Makes sudden cuts in space. When he is able to accelerate to top speed, few college players can catch him. Shows some flashes of shiftiness and wiggle but more impressive second-gear when the crease is big enough to allow him free passage to the second level… Excellent hands. Both coaching staffs (Houston and WVU) found ways to utilize his receiving abilities (203 career rec.). Able to catch the ball in stride and transition into a runner without wasted time… Zero recorded fumbles in 592 rushes… Fine athlete that commands the ball at the college level.
WEAKNESSES: Doesn’t exhibit great balance in tight spaces. Runs too upright, with high pads. Frequently brought down by the first man to contact him. Easy to tackle, arm-tackled multiple times by inferior athletes. Often tripped up by his legs/ankles on weak tackle attempts. Definitely more of a finesse runner. Almost never delivers punishment. Very few impressive YAC runs. His body length allows him to fall forward but he doesn’t move the pile or churn his legs violently through trash. Consistently taken down in 1v1 situations in the hole… Initial quickness to the hole is a work in progress. Takes too many false steps upon receiving the handoff. Suspect vision, rarely finds cutback lanes in zone scheme, seems to only find openings when the crease is huge, although the WVU OL was not good at all… Horrible in pass protection and at blocking in general (was lead blocker for a handful of plays). Disinterested, will give a weak shoulder or lunge at blitzer, then stare and watch his QB run for his life. Extremely poor technique in pass pro, doesn’t eat grass, way too high, and fails to anchor. Lacks the strength and/or attitude to pass block.
SUMMATION: Sims looks like the kid who was the best athlete in high school so his coach put him at RB. His lack of physicality won’t play at the next level regardless of his athleticism. His best attributes are his long speed and receiving ability, but he’s tough to envision as an effective 3rd down back because he’s downright terrible at pass blocking. The size/speed combo is tempting but he’s a finesse runner who fails to create anything unless there’s a wide open crease. If he’s able to find a clean lane to accelerate to the second level, he can hit a second-gear and score from anywhere, and his 4.48 official 40 time backs that up. However, those circumstances rarely open up that cleanly at the NFL level, and his quickness in short areas is below average, as his below average 3-cone (7.16) and short-shuttle (4.30) indicate. Sims transferred from Houston to West Virginia to help his draft stock, but the Mountaineers OL struggled, the team only won four games, and he had only a 5.3 YPC with just four 100-yd games, two coming against FCS opponents. For a relatively seasoned prospect, Sims’ shortcomings in pass pro, balance, and physicality are hard to overlook. He has potential to be a quality NFL back with rare speed and terrific receiving ability, but he’ll have to learn how to be more physical and make defenders miss in the hole to make an impact. His game reminds me of Le’Veon Bell, but Bell showed many more flashes of power at MSU and was a much more instinctive runner (I also thought Knile Davis was too soft, but he surprised me as a rookie).
Royce Liston, @rcliston1985
STRENGTHS: Has great quickness and balance. He is loose and flexible in hips. He accelerates around the corner, cuts very sharply. He changes directions a full speed. Can make defenders miss in the open field. He shows creativity in the open field. Runs with pads low and shreds off tacklers gaining yards after first and second contact. Has ability to make big plays. He is willing to block.
He also has great hands can pluck ball away from frame. He knows the route tree, catches in stride and then explodes up field. He maintains balance in routes. He also lines up in the slot position. Will block for others catching and running. He plays special teams and has good return ability. He is a quality 1st or 2nd down back.
WEAKNESSES: He does not run well between the tackles and will get stuffed at the line of scrimmage, inconsistent vision. Lower body is thin. He will take a step back to go forward. Will misdiagnose who to block, doesn’t square off in blocks, fails to put hands on defenders’ chest plate, lunges into blocks and does not drive defender. He has small hands (8 ½”) and will not catch poor thrown balls. He has missed games in each year of college due to injury and academics in 2012. Not a complete back not for 3rd downs. Last, he has not played a lot of pro formations.
SUMMATION: While he is not a 3rd down player he can be an important weapon in pass game. Player could contribute to Special Teams immediately.
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