In Matt Forte, the Chicago Bears have one of the best all-round running backs in the NFL. The six-year veteran is coming off his second straight Pro Bowl campaign and appears poised for another strong year in 2014.
Yet considering his workload there's the real possibility this season could be Forte's last as one of the league's elite. Due to the 10-year mileage on his 28-year-old tires, a drop off in production by 2015 should be expected.
Behind Forte, the Bears are paper thin, with just Micheal Ford, an undrafted free agent who didn't receive a single carry last year, as his only backup. The lack of depth at the position makes it highly likely the team will invest a draft pick in a ball carrier in this year's draft.
Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY
Charles Sims, West Virginia (6-0, 214)40-yard dash: 4.48
Bench press: 17
Vertical jump: 37.5
Broad jump: 10-6
Short shuttle: 4.20
Pros-Good hands out of the backfield. Can make all the catches. Effortless hands.
-Decent in pass protection. Gives good effort.
-Good burst in space.
-Experience lining up at wide receiver. Challenges for balls in the air, with WR mentality.
-Strong spin move.
-Experience as a kick returner.
-One-cut, North-South runner experienced in zone-blocking system.
-Runs with power in short-yardage situations.
Cons-Doesn't have great awareness in pass protection.
-Not extremely elusive. Doesn't consistently make first defender miss.
-Doesn't show elite-level on-field speed.
-Not a home run hitter.
-Not a lead blocker. Doesn't have value in that role in two-back sets.
-Lacks field vision. Doesn't "create" lanes on his own.
Sims is a solid all-around player who has experience in many phases of the game. A transfer from Houston, Sims rushed 208 times last season for 1,095 yards and 11 touchdowns. He became the first Mountaineers running back to rush for 1,000 or more yards since Noel Devine in 2009.
Sims also led West Virginia's offense with 45 receptions, resulting in 401 receiving yards and three more TDs. He served as the club's third-down and short-yardage back.
Sims has good size, which made him very effective near the goal-line, an area in which Chicago's offense has struggled the past few seasons. He's also experienced in pass protection, although he'll need to raise his awareness in that area. Additionally, Sims returned four kickoffs for West Virginia in 2013, so he has value on special teams as well.
He's not an elusive runner and isn't great in any one area, which is why he'll likely fall to the fourth round in this year's draft. Yet Sims showed good speed at the combine (4.48 40-yard dash) and his one-cut running style should fit well in the Bears' zone-blocking run game. At the very least, his power as a North-South runner should benefit the team near the goal line, while his hands give him value from Day 1 as a third-down back.
Sims has a lot of potential at the next level. In Chicago, he could serve well in a part-time backup role before eventually taking over as a full-time ball carrier. It's doubtful he'll ever develop into a Pro Bowler like Forte but Sims does everything well and still has room for improvement.
He's not the savior of the offense but Sims' ability to run the ball, catch the ball, pound the ball in short yardage and help on special teams makes him an ideal mid-round selection for the Bears.
*NOTE: Sims' pro day will be conducted tomorrow morning (3/21).*
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his fourth season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Bear Report Web site or magazine, click here.