It was a surprise to some last fall when Redskins wide receiver Steven Sims made the team’s initial 53-man roster. The undersized, speedy wideout had a solid preseason for Washington, but as an undrafted player, his chances of making the team’s Week 1 squad appeared quite slim at the beginning of training camp.
Hogs Haven was on the Steven Sims hype train early, publishing a very positive UDFA profile of him in which I wrote:
One might be led by the glowing scouting report above to think that Steven Sims, Jr. may be another hidden diamond uncovered by Doug Williams, Kyle Smith, Tim Gribble and the rest of the scouting department.
Personally, I’m excited to see this young man on the field in burgundy and gold during the pre-season!
So it was no great surprise to me when Sims made the Redskins roster, but his late-season success as a receiver went beyond my expectations and lived up to the lofty praise heaped on him by College Football Metrics:
What’s impressive to me is not only Sims’ high-end speed-acceleration, but his route running ability (he’s an ankle breaker to try to cover) and his hands/concentration on catches. He made some pretty sweet grabs in-between all those speed plays on his highlight reel...and some stellar stop/change-of-direction-on-a-dime moves that left DBs stuck in the mud trying to do the same.
Sims has the whole package for the NFL, in my estimation...and not just ‘he belongs’ – more like ‘he’s dangerous, he’s a real weapon,he could be a star’ (and could be a UDFA open for any team at rock bottom prices).
I really believe Sims is a gem totally hidden by circumstances and surroundings that camouflaged how good/great he might be.
Not only is Sims an athletic talent, he’s also a smart, thoughtful young man. Watch him in interviews...he’s always humble, always about team. He was an All-Big-12 Academic Rookie Team and made the Honor Roll a few times in his academic career.
If I were an NFL GM, I’m making this Steven Sims pick before someone else gets him. In this era of speed wide receivers becoming full-fledged weapons in the modern passing game and on jet sweeps, I want in on one of the best bargain WR prospects of 2019.
But when Sims first joined the Redskins, he faced a significant obstacle: he had nowhere to live in the DC area, and as an undrafted college free agent, no strong reason to look for permanent digs.
“I didn’t have a home in Virginia as soon as we got back from [training camp in Richmond],” Sims told the Washington Post.
But Steven Sims was in luck. Fellow rookie, Dwayne Haskins, the Redskins first pick in last year’s draft, lived in the DC area and offered him a place to stay.
“When we came back to Ashburn, we had a few weeks before camp was over, so I stayed with Dwayne for around a month,” Sims said.
Early in the season, when asked about the connection he had with Terry McLaurin from playing together at Ohio State, Dwayne Haskins clarified that he had actually known Kelvin Harmon longer — dating back to their high school days — and then added that he had also become good friends with “Steven”, but the quarterback didn’t mention the living arrangements that led to that friendship.
“It was fun. Dwayne, he loves football, just like me,” Sims said. ”All he wants to do is watch football, talk football and work. I was on his schedule [because I didn’t have a car], so we were up early. I was [at Redskins Park] on a quarterback’s schedule, so I was there before other receivers were. I feel like that was a blessing in disguise.”
The season wasn’t an instant success for either player. Haskins was third on the depth chart behind Case Keenum and Colt McCoy, and Jay Gruden showed little interest in working to make Haskins a starter as he, Gruden, fought unsuccessfully to keep his own job. Sims was behind Trey Quinn on the depth chart as both slot receiver and punt returner.
Injuries to the starters, though, opened the door to opportunities for both players, and, after Gruden was fired and the season melted down into a morass of losses, the coaching staff turned increasingly to the younger players on the roster. Haskins and Sims both got expanded opportunities to play and contribute.
By Week 9, Haskins was Washington’s starter for the remainder of the season — at least until injury forced him to the sideline. Sims took over as the starting slot receiver soon after, and was highly productive on offense, and was at times electrifying as a kick returner, finishing the season among the leaders in that category.
Let’s look at his final quarter of his season as a receiver:
In these four games, Sims had the following stat line:
- Rec 20
- Yards 230
- Avg 11.5
- TDs 4
By December 2019, Sims, an undrafted rookie from Kansas, was an integral part of the Redskins offense, and he believes that this success was due to to the chemistry he developed with his quarterback when they lived together and trained together following training camp.
“[Last year’s success] was just a lot with the connection me and Dwayne have,” Sims said. “We built it early in the season, from the day I got there to living in his house. It worked out perfectly.”
Redskins fans are hoping that the late season production by Steven Sims, and the final two game performances from Dwayne Haskins (against the Eagles and Giants) were signals of more strong performances to come.
A look at the youth the Redskins have at the offensive skill positions — Haskins, McLaurin, Sims, Harmon, Gandy-Golden, Moss, Guice, Love, Gibson and Wright — and the tremendous amount of potential it represents should give Redskins fans hope that this is an offense on the rise, and that the rise will be fueled by strong relationships as these young players continue to grow together.
Part of the credit for one of those relationships goes to the young quarterback from Ohio State reaching out a helping hand to a fellow rookie facing a tough situation, showing that sometimes leadership and friendship look very much like the same thing.