The emergence of rookie receiver Steven Sims Jr. has been nothing short of miraculous. Many, including myself, take little stock in the 4th preseason game, but the UDFA out of Kansas made the most out of the opportunities he was given. Although Sims Jr only had 1 catch for 7 yards and a TD, that lone reception displayed just how shifty Sims Jr can be. His play has impressed many within the Redskins organization.
Below is a previous Burgundy and Gold Report Film Room session that highlighted how dangerous and quick off the line Sims Jr can be.
Playing for the Jayhawks
For all intents and purposes, Sims Jr. had a pedestrian collegiate career, with 2,580 yards receiving and 19 TD’s. He also had a decent yards-per-catch average at Kansas with a 12.1 average. 2017 would be a career year for the 5’10” mighty might, with 839 receiving yards, 6 TD’s and a career best 14.5 yards per catch average.
As Redskins fans saw during the final preseason game, Sims Jr. also offers the ability to be a dynamic special teams’ returner. Although the UDFA only had 26 career kick returns at Kansas, 2017 would also be his most productive year as a kick returner with a 25.4 yards-per-return average. 2017 would also be the only year (2018 1 PR) he fielded punts registering 12 returns for a 6.4 average. Although Sims Jr. recorded zero special teams’ touchdowns, he’ll prove to be a dynamic returner for the Redskins.
Sims Jr.’s overall collegiate production should be viewed in a vacuum and one must wonder what kind of numbers he would have put up if he played for an upper echelon team like Clemson or Oklahoma for example. The Kansas University football team was, well. . . really bad (2015 2-10 2016 0-12 2017 1-11 2018 3-9). Sims Jr. was the bright spot for the Jayhawk team.
Although Sims Jr.’s four years at Kansas showed little team growth, the annual meeting with in-state rival, Kansas State, featured just how good the Jayhawk could be. His tape shows a speedster who takes routine bubble screens for 15 yards gains, but his acrobatic receptions became a common scene. During their last meeting, Sims Jr. fell less than 20 yards short of equaling Kansas State’s total receiving output, with 113 1 TD. Kansas nearly pulled off the upset, but ultimately lost by 4.
Sims Jr. has always been an overachiever and always seems to be at his best when faced with adversity. Washington would be wise to utilize the Jayhawks’ ability to get downfield.
Most Dangerous from the Slot
Although second year receiver Trey Quinn will be the starting slot, he played predominantly from the X receiver spot during his time at SMU. That’s not to say that Quinn will not have success from the slot, but Quinn has a limited NFL resume with only 9 rec in three games. Health has also been an issue for Quinn, which extended to this offseason. Sims Jr. on the other hand has impressed this offseason and seems to be the logical backup to Quinn.
Similar to a running back by committee approach, the Redskins are full of unproven rookie receivers and a rotation could be something Jay Gruden and KOC utilize. It’s quite possible, with no proven #1 receiver, Sims Jr. could see the field early.
Statistics aside, watching Sims Jr.’s ability to quickly create separation makes him the possible home run hitter they’ve missed since DeSean Jackson departed via free agency. Ironically, the Redskins will face Jackson who’s on his second stint with the Eagles. It was hoped that 2018 free agent signing, Paul Richardson Jr., would fill the deep threat role in Gruden’s offense. Unfortunately, similar to his career with Seattle, Richardson has proven he can’t stay healthy.
Per former Redskins’ receiver Santana Moss, Sim Jr. could just be scratching the surface of his ability.
“He has something that this team has been missing for a while now. His quickness and top end speed make up for his size and I can already see his return ability especially his punt return ability is going to be unique.”
The bottom line is the Redskins’ return game has fallen flat since former great Brian Mitchell departed. Getting the ball in #15’s hands and utilizing his speed could be a big boost to the return game. The Redskins have high hopes for 3rd round rookie Terry McLaurin, as well as, Trey Quinn and Paul Richardson Jr. But matching up the Kansas speedster versus a team’s 4th DB, could lead to a matchup advantage this week when the Redskins face the Philadelphia Eagles. The spotlight will be on Sims Jr. early on. He’ll have to make the most of his opportunities, and with the team’s consistent injury woes, seeing the field early could be a reality sooner, rather than later, for the rookie receiver.
By Adam Aniba
Follow on Twitter @TheBandGreport
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