With the draft now complete, we’ll be providing in-depth breakdowns of each of the draft picks and undrafted free agents. We continue today with the 59th overall pick - wide receiver Denzel Mims.
The 22-year old is listed at 6’3” and 207 pounds and attended college at Baylor. Mims had two thousand-yard seasons in his three years as a starter and scored 28 touchdowns. He was awarded all-Big 12 first team honors in 2019.
Mims played high school football at Texas and was a highly rated recruit, ranked in the top 300 nationally. He had also played basketball and ran track in high school.
Having been recruited to Baylor, Mims saw action in 11 of 13 games as a true freshman, although he only started one game and only caught four passes in total.
In 2017, Mims became a starter and broke out with 61 catches for a career-high 1,087 yards and eight touchdowns. However, in 2018 his production slipped as he only ended up with 794 yards on 55 catches.
Having decided to return for his senior year, Mims bounced back with another thousand-yard season, setting career marks in receptions (66) and touchdown catches (12). He was voted to the all-Big 12 first team at the end of the season.
After an excellent performance at the scouting combine and the senior bowl, Mims started to get some first round buzz, but eventually dropped to the 59th pick. Having traded down from 48, the Jets were able to select Mims there.
Let’s move onto some more in-depth analysis of what Mims brings to the table, based on in-depth research and film study.
Mims has excellent height and length, giving him a huge catch radius. He’s not a big-bodied receiver, but did bulk up a bit in his senior year.
At the scouting combine, Mims dazzled with a 4.38 in the 40-yard dash and a 38.5” vertical jump, each of which show up on film. He also posted excellent marks in the broad jump and three cone drill and his bench press (16 reps) was solid.
Mims’ short shuttle was poor and his lateral quickness has been questioned in some scouting reports.
Mims was primarily an outside receiver at Baylor, catching just two passes out of the slot in his first three seasons. He saw a little more work out of the slot in his senior year, although he only caught four short passes.
He very occasionally lined up as an H-back and, in high school, also played the safety position.
Mims carried the ball just once in his college career, on an end around that went for a six-yard loss.
Mims is definitely a downfield threat, capable of getting behind the defense or going up over defensive players to catch downfield passes or back shoulder throws.
In 2017 and 2019, Mims averaged about one downfield catch per game, although he was less successful on such plays in 2018. In 2017, five of his eight touchdowns came on downfield throws.
With 4.38 speed, Mims has the ability to get behind the defense as long as he can get a clean release. On this play, he achieves that with some quickness at the line.
With his catch radius, Mims is able to make catches down the field even where he doesn’t have any separation, by being strong at the catch point, or using his body to box out the defender.
Mims played in a spread system at Baylor, which meant that he doesn’t really have experience of running a full NFL route tree. However, he’s shown effectiveness on a few of the more basic routes. The main ones he produced on were go routes, hitches, slants and fades.
Although the consensus is that Mims is raw as a route runner, he does show some potential in that area. However, there are some technical flaws that need some work. For example, he can be a little upright and doesn’t make sharp breaks.
He does an effective job of coming off the line at times, can execute stop-go moves and has started adding some complexity and unpredictability to his routes.
As a general rule, though, he doesn’t seem to generate a lot of separation. Here’s where his catch radius comes in useful because it creates that natural separation if the quarterback can throw it to a spot where he can make a play on it.
If you’ve watched any highlight reels of Mims so far, you’ll see that he’s capable of making highlight reel grabs. He’s adept at catching passes away from his body, which enables him to make contested catches, go up over defenders and extend or go to ground to come up with the ball.
He seems to have a natural ability for tracking the ball with a lot of these contested catches seeing him take the advantage of locating the ball first and being able to position himself to make a play on it.
One thing that stands out on some of his highlights is his tremendous dexterity. He’ll catch the ball cleanly, enabling him to contort his body to come up with off-target throws, reach around or over a defensive player or come down inbounds on the sideline.
There are plenty of examples on Mims’ highlight reel of him bailing out his quarterback by reaching back for a ball thrown behind him or extending for an inaccurate throw.
One negative associated with Mims is dropped passes. He had 11 of these in 2018 alone and many of these were focus or concentration drops.
However, it’s since emerged that Mims played the entire season with a broken hand which was no doubt a factor in this. The fact he only averaged six dropped passes per season in 2017 and 2019 despite having over 110 targets in each year also helps to allay these concerns.
Mims definitely has the potential to be a good red zone threat. Several of his touchdowns last season came in the red zone, with a handful being on fade routes where the quarterback just threw it up to him.
His leaping ability, long arms and ability to catch the ball away from his frame are all assets down near the goal line.
Yards after the catch
Mims averaged less than three yards after the catch per catch in 2019, but that’s partly because he made a lot of catches down the field or with a defender nearby.
However, he’s had more success in the past, averaging almost seven yards after the catch in 2017 when he had a career-high 17.8 yards per catch average, so his open field moves and creativity may be underrated.
On the whole, Mims does display some good abilities in this area. He has good open field speed and will drive for extra yardage at the end of a play, but can also slip out of a tackle.
Ball security may be a minor concern after he had the ball stripped away from him twice last season. However, Baylor got both of those back and he only had one other fumble in his entire career.
Blocking is one area where Mims is particularly impressive. Note how he stays on his block here to prevent the cornerback from getting in on the play.
As a blocker, Mims uses his length well, gives a good effort and has been described as having a bully mentality. However, where he does have negative plays these are often due to lapses in concentration, much like his drops.
He shows good desire to make blocks down the field, hustling out in front of the runner on this play to disrupt the defensive back’s pursuit angle.
Mims shows a lot of physicality in his routes, although some have suggested he puts his hands on the defensive back too often and could therefore be at risk of drawing a lot of offensive pass interference calls.
The good news on that front is that Mims only had one such penalty in 2019 and it was a bit of a ticky-tack call.
In 2018, Mims had four penalties, with three of them coming in the Texas Tech game. One was a false start and one was a holding penalty though.
Interestingly, one scouting report suggests he has a history of being ineffective on contested catches and suggests he needs to get stronger at the catch point, although according to Pro Football Focus he had the most contested catches in the nation from 2017 to 2019.
The same scouting report also suggested he struggles to get off press coverage, although again this seems to be something he’s improved at with the strength gains he made in his senior year.
With that said, there have been games where he’s had quiet games due to physical coverage, notably against Jeff Gladney of TCU, although Gladney arguably could have been called for a few defensive penalties. Mims was also shut out in this year’s Big 12 title game but a review of the film shows that this had more to do with the inadequacies of the back-up quarterback and Oklahoma’s gameplan which saw Mims’ defender getting constant safety support.
Here’s a good example of him dealing well with physical coverage, battling to gain outside leverage and then using that to get separation.
As noted, he shows some aggression and physicality as a blocker and finishes strong as a ball carrier after the catch, sometimes dragging defenders for extra yardage.
Mims barely played on special teams at Baylor and perhaps won’t be expected to do much with the Jets. He had one kickoff return for 18 yards in his freshman year and one special teams tackle in limited action in kick coverage. He’s also been a blocker on return units.
Instincts and Intelligence
A lot of what Mims does well seems to be based off his natural ability but he seems to be getting better at figuring out how to release off the line and how to set up a defender to gain separation.
There aren’t many examples of Mims finding open spaces against zone coverage or in situations where the quarterback extended the play but that may be something he’ll get more a chance to do with the Jets.
There doesn’t seem to be any evidence of Mims making mental errors or missing assignments.
Mims has displayed his toughness by playing through the hand injury in 2018 and his work ethic by adding strength after that season. He’s also clearly improved certain aspects of his game such as his release off the line and his route variation, so he seems to be someone who is coachable and who will work hard to get better.
Before the 2019 season, Matt Rhule named Mims as one of the “Front Nine”, which are the Bears players that get awarded a single-digit number. This is a reward for leadership, hard work and dedication that Rhule has said he would only give to players who have earned it.
Mims doesn’t seem to have any off-field issues, although he portrays a confident and sometimes bordering on cocky demeanor on the field.
Aside from the broken hand, Mims didn’t have many injury problems at Baylor. He was knocked out of a game in 2017 after a big hit, but returned to play the following week. He was also banged up against Oklahoma last season, but stayed in and had a solid game although he was noticeably limping.
Mims’ combination of size and speed fills a void for a Jets team that currently seems to have a starter spot up for grabs. While they’re banking on Breshad Perriman to build on his strong finish to 2019 and become a productive full-time starter, and have Jamison Crowder to man the slot, the other outside receiver position is essentially vacant.
The rookie has a good chance to earn that role, or at least to split reps with other players. Unlike some rookies, he’s a good enough blocker that he won’t be prevented from getting on the field, so this will give him opportunities to be productive.
While he’ll need to expand his route tree and perhaps work on refining some of his route running, Mims could see action as a downfield threat and red zone target even if he doesn’t start as a rookie.
It will be interesting to see if the Jets can develop Mims to be an X receiver. As noted earlier, some draft analysts weren’t impressed with his ability to get off press coverage, although he seems to be improving at that and definitely has the size and length to develop into that kind of role. In the short term, he could play more as a Z, but again he has the speed and athleticism to do well in that role.
Mims is a naturally gifted player with excellent measurables who should start contributing right off the bat with the Jets, even if that’s in a situational role.
Like their first pick, Mekhi Becton, there are some things he’ll need to work at as he develops over the next year or so but he has the potential to be a productive receiver at the next level and the kind of weapon that could help Sam Darnold continue to ascend. He should also bring some excitement to a Jets offense that has been lacking in big play potential.
As with Becton, Mims has had some success despite not yet mastering the techniques, specifically in terms of route running in Mims’ case. However, he shows good potential in that area and is considerably further along than he was a year ago. Again, this leads us to conclude that if Mims can master those techniques, his potential is through the roof. In addition, his ability to use his other gifts to be productive hopefully means it won’t take him long to get to that stage and that he can still produce well while he’s perfecting his craft.