By Jeremy Hritz
Ray Ray, is officially on notice.
Yesterday, the Steelers signed Steven Sims to their practice squad, a wide receiver, return man who is fast, shifty, and a legitimate threat to displace Ray Ray McCloud from the 53-man roster.
At 5’10, 190, Sims played his college football on some very, very, VERY bad teams at the University of Kansas, where he had 214 receptions for 2582 yards and 19 touchdowns. And that was while playing for some highly ineffective quarterbacks. As a return man, he had a 21.7 per return average in the kick return game, while as a punt returner, he didn’t contribute much at all.
Sims went undrafted but was signed by the Washington Football Team in 2019. In two years with the WFT, Sims has put up decent numbers with again, subpar quarterbacking (no slight to Dwayne Haskins), tallying 61 receptions for 574 yards, 5 touchdowns, and a 9.4 yard per reception average. He also had a 65-yard rushing touchdown against the New England Patriots, showing he is able to versatile within an NFL offense.
In the return game with Washington, Sims scored on a 91-yard kickoff return and averaged 24 yards per kickoff return, while he was not as successful as a punt returner with a 6.2 yard per return average.
I couldn’t locate an official 40 yard dash time for Sims, what I could find is that he is estimated to be in the 4.3 range, and it shows in his tape. If you need confirmation, watch the highlights I linked at the bottom of this article, and you’ll see it with your own eyes (please note, for whatever reason, it would not let me post highlights from his time in the NFL due to restrictions of the video, so I am sharing his college tape).
Even though McCloud has been serviceable for the Steelers, he has not been consistent, and his play tailed off after a solid start to 2020. He flashed in the return game early and had an explosive 58-yard carry against the Philadelphia Eagles, but as the season progressed, he showed a lack of ball security, confidence in his return game, and a steady decline in his contributions. This preseason, while he had some productive catch and runs, he didn’t show a range in his ability to run a variety of routes, and he is limited as a receiver. Additionally, his performance in the return game was uninspiring, enough so that he was seriously being challenged by the undrafted Mathew Sexton.
Sims has a connection to the Steelers in that he played for current wide receivers coach, Ike Hilliard, so unquestionably, there is a familiarity of his game within the organization. Sims is a more complete player than McCloud, too, as a receiver, and he can give more in the passing game in that #5 spot. The question will be, how long will it take for Sims to jump McCloud, and which week of the regular season will we see this happen? Week 1 in Buffalo seems entirely too soon, but if the move is made and McCloud is released, it will show the confidence the team has in Sims.
The Steelers are always looking to upgrade their roster at every position, and this is the charge of Kevin Colbert as these personnel moves are made. The Sims addition is more than just that of a practice squad body, so don’t be surprised to see him making some big plays in 2021.