This season, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ backfield found much improvement after an injured Le’Veon Bell returned to the lineup. Prior to his return, the Steelers’ rushing attack was inept as inept can be.
Barring another injury, Bell looks to be more than capable of handling the duties of the backfield next season. Bell showed a lot of potential during this past season even after missing the first three weeks of it. There’s a lot to like about Bell and his future with the Steelers looks bright.
Other than Bell though, who do the Steelers have?
No one too jaw dropping, that’s for sure. The backups this season were veteran Felix Jones, who the Steelers acquired in a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles, and Jonathan Dwyer, who the team cut and then brought back midway through the season. The team also rolled out Isaac Redman for three games.
Jones looked like the veteran running back that he is. He didn’t do a whole lot but provided some help when called upon. For whatever reason, he returned kicks for most of the season and that was mainly his role. Jones was a desperate snag by the Steelers due in large to LaRod Stephens-Howling going down in week 1.
Dwyer was cut and brought back after the injury bug was in full effect and Dwyer’s role was practically that of a fullback: he was the short yardage guy. Dwyer was pretty reliable when it came to getting the Steelers two or three yards, but that’s about all he was asked to do.
As the draft nears there’s a lot of needs for the Steelers and even though Bell will be the sure starter next season, he needs someone to compliment him. The Steelers should look to the draft to pick up a backup for Bell.
That’s where the Steelers might want to take a look at Charles Sims, a running back out of West Virginia University.
Sims is listed at 6-foot, 213 pounds and is coming off a great season for the Mountaineers. Sims amassed 1,095 yards and 11 rushing touchdowns during his time at WVU. Sims also reeled in 45 receptions for 401 yards and three receiving touchdowns.
The Steelers need to look for a small and shifty back and although Sims isn’t all that small, he’d fit the scene just right. He can explode when he gets in open space and is good when it comes to hitting the right holes. At West Virginia, Sims was their most versatile player and was asked to do a lot of running, blocking and receiving, basically carrying the team.
Sims excels when it comes to zone-blocking and with Mike Munchak taking the reigns of the offensive line the Steelers should get back to zone-blocking. Sims would benefit from it and so would Bell.
The main reason Sims would be a great choice is because of his recieving abilities. The Steelers will most likely be without Emmanuel Sanders next season and a wide receiver is definitely a position they’ll address in the draft but drafting Sims would add another capable body to catch passes. It would almost be like drafting a late-round receiver because Sims is such dual threat. He’d be a great weapon to add to Ben Roethlisberger’s arsenal.
Sims is getting a lot of positive feedback from scouts. He’s being compared to Matt Forte due to his power and speed. He’s as versatile as they come and from what many reports are indicating he’s doing it on a consistent basis.
One reason the Steelers could shy away from drafting a running back is Stephens-Howling. Stephens-Howling showed a lot of promise during the preseason but his promising start was cut short after being injured in week 1. Stephens-Howling missed the entire season with an ACL injury.
If Stephens-Howling is able to recover and bounce back to the same way he was prior to his injury the Steelers might not need to draft a backup or find one on the market. Stephens-Howling was good enough to be a backup and if he can fully recover they should be set.
However, should he not be able to return by week 1 or if they decide to part ways with Stephens-Howling then they’ll turn to the draft or free market.
Sims’ Senior Bowl performance was less-than-stellar, Sims only carried the ball three times for eight yards. Sims who got the start for the North was outdone by Wisconsin’s James White. This could play a role in Sims’ draft stock.
Right now, Sims is projected to go in the third round of the NFL draft. That’s too early for the Steelers to pick him up, but if Sims slips to the fourth or definitely to the fifth then the Steelers should pull the trigger. Sims has potential to be a starter in this league and he’d be a fantastic back-up to Bell.