Last week, the Jets signed former Kansas City Chiefs running back Charcandrick West. Now we’re taking a look at what West brings to the table.
The 27-year old West is listed as 5’10” and 205 pounds and was undrafted out of Alibene Christian in 2014. He has spent his entire career with the Chiefs, racking up 999 rushing yards, with 75 pass receptions and 12 total touchdowns. In 2017, he was used mostly as a third-down back as he rushed for just 72 yards but caught 27 passes.
West was originally recruited to Louisiana Tech out of high school, but had to transfer to Alibene Christian during the summer after failing to meet the required academic standards in time.
With the Wildcats, his role gradually increased over the course of his four-year career. He ended up with over 2,000 rushing yards and also had over 1,000 receiving yards with 30 total touchdowns. In his senior year, West set career highs in rushing yards (906), receptions (32), receiving yards (443) and total touchdowns (14).
West was not invited to the scouting combine, but turned heads in his pro day workout and eventually signed with the Chiefs as an undrafted free agent after the 2014 NFL draft.
While he didn’t make their roster initially in his rookie season, West was placed on the practice squad and added to the active roster in November, albeit only for special teams duties.
In 2015, Jamaal Charles got injured and West eventually worked his way into the starting line-up, although he lost a key fumble in his first start. However, in his next three games as the lead back, he rushed for 110 yards and a touchdown against the Steelers, then 97 yards and a touchdown against the Lions and finally racked up 150 yards from scrimmage and two scores against Denver. The Chiefs won all three games and West ended up with a career-high 634 yards and four touchdowns on the ground, adding 87 yards and a touchdown in two playoff games.
In the following season, West didn’t get as many chances to run the ball, but established himself as a productive third-down back by setting a career high with 28 receptions.
Last year, West led the Chiefs in rushing in preseason, with most of his yards coming in a game against the Bengals where he rushed for 113 yards on seven carries. However, he only rushed for 72 yards in the regular season, again seeing more touches (27 receptions) as a pass catcher.
The Chiefs released West after he was unable to suit up for their first two preseason games.
Let’s look in more detail at what West brings to the table, based on in-depth research and film study.
While usually employed as a conventional running back, West has also taken snaps in the slot or out wide from time to time.
He was originally recruited to Louisiana Tech as a cornerback, despite having played running back in high school, but converted back to running back when he arrived at ACU.
West was a sprinter in high school, where he set a school record by running 10.34 in the 100 meters. He showcased that speed at his pro day when he ran a 4.27 in the 40-yard dash. However, that was reportedly wind-assisted, as he “only” ran 4.46 going the other way. The speed shows up on film as he has good burst and acceleration and can run away from defensive backs in the open field.
West also posted outstanding explosiveness numbers with a 41-inch vertical and 130-inch broad jump. However, his agility and strength numbers were below average.
West has a direct running style. He makes decisive cuts, hits the hole at speed and shows patience in following his blocks. While he has the speed to get outside, West is at his best when he can cut upfield and make defenders miss at the second level.
West cites Charles as his on-field mentor and he shows flashes of the same kind of abilities, especially in how he will set up defensive players as he changes direction.
However, he’s only averaged 3.8 yards per carry in regular season action and 3.3 yards per carry in postseason action. He averaged six yards per carry in college and has also averaged six yards per carry in preseason action.
While West is not very big, he can throw a stiff arm and shows some toughness in how he finishes his runs.
West has seven rushing touchdowns in his career, but only one of those was from inside the three yard line. However, his lone postseason touchdown was also from the goal line.
While he doesn’t have the size to move the pile, West has shown that he can jump over the top and has the initial quickness to hit a hole before it closes up.
West has been a productive pass receiver, although he has done most of his damage on dump-off passes. With his elusiveness in space he can be an effective playmaker in those situations.
He has had some limited success in getting open on short passes, typically on out-breaking routes or over the middle.
West dropped five passes in the 2015 season, but his hands have been a lot more consistent since then, with just one further drop.
West has only lost two fumbles in his career but they each came at the worst possible time.
One, in his first career start, came with under five minutes to go and the Chiefs potentially driving for the game-winning score. The Vikings recovered and were able to run the clock out on a 16-10 win.
His only other lost fumble was in the 2016 AFC divisional playoff with the Chiefs trailing 12-7 and driving just before halftime. They eventually lost 18-16.
Each of these fumbles was somewhat wacky as the first one saw his teammate knock the ball out of his hands and the other saw him inexplicably lose the ball as he changed direction with nobody around him. The cold weather probably was a factor in that one.
West was called upon to pass protect a lot in college, so that was one of the things that scouts were impressed with in his draft film.
At the NFL level, he’s been required to do this quite a lot since he has been primarily a third down back but has never been responsible for a sack. Due to his lack of size, he can be moved off his spot though and has given up some pressure, albeit at an acceptable rate.
West has played a lot on special teams since his rookie season, although he’s only been credited with three tackles in coverage. Special teams coach Dave Toub praised his contributions with the Chiefs, singling out his reliability in punt protection.
West has some return experience as he racked up over 750 yards on kick-offs in college. However, he doesn’t have any experience returning punts. At the NFL level, he has returned two kicks in regular season action and three in a postseason game but only averaged 20.6 yards.
West displays good vision and patience as a runner and has natural instincts once he gets out into the open field. He also does a good job of taking what the defense gives him rather than risking a big loss of yardage when plays are not well blocked.
As a pass catcher he shows some ability to sit down in an open spot or get some separation to make himself a checkdown option.
Coaches and teammates from West’s career talk in glowing terms about his character and he seems like the sort of player that is fun to root for. He’s been described as energetic, humble and unselfish.
West has shown determination and toughness just to make it to the league after having to transfer in college and going undrafted. He also had to endure one of his close friends and mentors passing away and a mystery illness in high school, which was eventually diagnosed as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and is now back under control. However, this adversity has made West a positive and driven person, who also does plenty of charitable work with children.
West also brings that energy to the field, although he has committed six personal fouls in his career, so he can be somewhat over-exuberant. His only other penalty has been a false start.
West has avoided any serious injury issues over the course of his career, but was dealing with a concussion before the Chiefs released him. That’s at least the third concussion of his pro career.
Other than concussions, he missed two games in 2017 with flu and for personal reasons. He’s also had minor ankle, elbow and hamstring issues in the past.
West’s decisive style is perfect for Rick Dennison’s blocking scheme as many of his best highlights feature him cutting back on stretch/zone type plays.
During his time with the Chiefs, he was a teammate of George Atkinson, Kevin Pierre-Louis and Neal Sterling.
On the face of it, the Jets probably just brought West in as a camp body so that they have someone to give the ball to in the final preseason game while all the players who are actually going to be on the roster are rested.
However, his film is pretty impressive and he looks like the type of player who would be a good fit in the Jets’ system, although the concussions are a concern which might prevent teams from seeing him as a viable long-term option.
While it seems unlikely he will oust the likes of Elijah McGuire or Trenton Cannon from roster contention, regardless of how well he performs in the last preseason game, this is a good opportunity for him to put some good things on film to potentially earn himself a job. He can also impress the Jets’ coaching staff so that he’s an option for them during the season when injuries inevitably strike.