MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Charles Sims became the first West Virginia player taken in the 2014 NFL draft, selected by Tampa Bay in the third round at No. 69 overall on Friday night.
Viewed as one of the draft’s most versatile running backs after a 45-catch senior season with the Mountaineers, Sims was the fourth running back selected behind second-rounders Carlos Hyde of Ohio State (49ers), Bishop Sankey of Washington (Bengals) and Jeremy Hill of LSU (Titans).
“He’s as good a receiver out of the backfield as any running back in this draft,” said NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock.
Of course Sims also ran for 1,095 yards and 11 touchdowns during his one-season layover at WVU, and he becomes the next piece in the Buccaneers’ offensive-oriented draft class. Tampa Bay selected Texas A&M receiver Mike Evans in the first round and Washington tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins in the second round.
“This guy is the top receiving back in the draft. Charles is a very explosive athlete.” — Bucs general manager Jason Licht
“This guy is the top receiving back in the draft,” Bucs general manager Jason Licht said. “Charles is a very explosive athlete.”
Tampa Bay’s committee of running backs that produced three 500-plus-yard rushers last season includes 2012 first-round pick Doug Martin, 2013 sixth-rounder Mike James and undrafted free agent Bobby Rainey.
“Running back was a pretty strong position that we had,” Licht said. “We had a chance to get a back that had a versatile skill set and can score points for us. We didn’t want to turn it down. I also feel like you can’t have enough backs, especially when they have versatile skill sets.”
Sims’ draft position was the highest for a Mountaineers running back in 43 years, following Jim Braxton going 57th to the Buffalo Bills in 1971.
Among the current crop of backs left on the draft board when Sims was selected: Heisman finalist Andre Williams of Boston College, SEC championship game MVP Tre Mason of Auburn, Oregon speedster De’Anthony Thomas and Baylor’s Lache Seastruck.