By Aidan McHenry, Staff Reporter
After a seven-reception playoff performance in a loss to Tampa Bay in the wild-card round, Washington wide receiver Cam Sims is poised for a breakout season in 2021.
The 6-foot-5 Alabama alumnus made a big leap in 2020 and showed a lot of potential to build upon.
Despite being fifth, sometimes sixth, in line for touches in Washington this season, Sims still managed 32 receptions for 477 yards on 48 targets and added a touchdown to his totals. That was a big step for the former undrafted free agent, as he had two receptions combined the last two seasons in Washington.
The reasons he is on the verge of a breakout are not limited to simple box stats. He finished second in the NFL amongst wide receivers in yards after the catch per reception (YAC/R), according to Pro Football Reference, behind only San Francisco’s number one receiver Deebo Samuel. Getting even a fraction of what Samuel brings to an offense is so valuable. His 7.8 YAC/R was twelfth overall behind a multitude of elite receiving-style running backs, including his teammate, rookie Antonio Gibson.
Sims’ ability to make plays after the catch is apparent through both his developing abilities; as a deep threat, and as a catch and run threat. His high-end speed and huge frame make him tough to tackle, something that Washington should use with many opposing defenses’ concentration on the passing game with budding superstar Terry McLaurin and former quarterback turned tight end, Logan Thomas.
Athletically Sims is no slouch, with a 34” vertical at his pro day, expanding his 6-foot-5 frame by even more. His 123-inch broad jump would have ranked tenth at the 2018 NFL Combine among receivers, showcasing his explosiveness. He also ran a 4.59 40-yard dash, around average for a receiver, but his speed in pads is more impressive. Running that speed is impressive for any NFL prospect Sims’ size.
An issue that came up down the stretch was his five drops after week 13. This issue arose when he began receiving more touches coupled with the competent quarterback play by Alex Smith when he replaced Dwayne Haskins. All young receivers deal with drops, although he had not seen the ball many times per game since his Alabama days back in 2017.
Sims’ PFF grades did not quite reflect what he did down the stretch primarily due to his limited action early in the season and his bout with drops later on, but he landed a 62.5 overall grade, right in the middle of the pack. His noticeable improvement as the season went on was supported by his grades starting a steady incline in the late weeks of the season, especially when Washington needed wins the most from week 13 to the wild-card round.
Sims is an exclusive rights free agent this offseason, which means he will be very cheap to bring back. With his production and potential, he should be a no-brainer for Washington head coach Ron Rivera, owner Dan Snyder and general manager Jason Wright to bring back.