Flanked on a gray leather couch by three of the most important people in his life – his mother, Peggy, grandmother, Glinda, and baby daughter Parker Noel Mims, who arrived just before his senior season at Baylor – Denzel Mims received a long-awaited call from Jets’ general manager Joe Douglas on the second night of the NFL Draft. JD told Mims that the Jets needed to surround Sam Darnold with more playmakers and wanted to know if he had found one.
“Most definitely you found one,” Mims said. “Everyone else is gonna pay for it.”
The wide receiver fell further than he anticipated in the draft before finally being selected 59th by New York, but playing with a chip on his shoulder is nothing new for Mims. Growing up in Dangerfield, Texas, he has grinded for every opportunity he has received. In high school, Mims actually began as the quarterback for the Dangerfield Tigers’ JV team. In garbage time of a lost game in 2012, the coach moved Mims to wide receiver and he proceeded to turn a short slant into an 80 yard touchdown on his first play. Needless to say, he never went back to playing quarterback.
Mims attended a Baylor satellite camp after coaches got word of his state championship winning 21.30 seconds time in the 200 meter dash. At the camp, he torched the competition.
“He was just completely dominant. He could really run and go get the ball and nobody could cover him one-on-one. … Just a monster of an athlete,” said former Baylor assistant Tate Wallis.
Baylor offered him a scholarship that same weekend. Mims’ college career had its ups and downs, but was ultimately defined by the wide receiver’s ability to step up and make big plays, something Sam Darnold and the Jets sorely need.
Following a clutch game from Mims that helped clinch Baylor a spot in the Big 12 Championship, then head coach Matt Rhule said, “I just think he’s one of those young people that answers the call, man. He answers the challenge. You can challenge Denzel. He steps up. Man, he fights for it. He finds a way to make it happen.”
Mims loves to have the ball in his hands in big situations, and it has proven wise to oblige as he scored multiple critical touchdowns for Baylor last season. Coming in at 6’3” and 207 lbs., he has a similar build to Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones, as well as a comparable play style. Mims is at his best on deep routes and back-shoulder fades where he can get physical and hand fight for the ball.
Mims possesses one of the best catch radiuses in the nation and has the ability to make plays that very few can, often turning inaccurate passes into completions throughout his time in college. He is deceptively quick for a man of his size, boasting a 4.38 40-yard dash time, which ranked third in this year’s wide receiver class (and 0.01 second ahead of Julio Jones).
Okay, I can feel you rolling your eyes; I’m not saying Mims will be the same star as Jones. As good as he was at coming down with catches in college, Mims sometimes struggled to create separation and his lateral quickness left much to be desired despite his blazing speed in the open field. Still, he has a tremendous ceiling if he can continue to improve his route running.
Mims joins the subpar receiving core of Breshad Perriman, Josh Doctson, and Jamison Crowder that lacks star power and lost deep threat Robby Anderson to Carolina this offseason. While Jets fans may be hopeful for Mims to make an immediate impact, patience will be key in regard to the Baylor star. Adjusting to the NFL is always a big step for a rookie, but will be far more treacherous for Mims and the class of 2020 who will not be allowed in team facilities for the foreseeable future.
Regardless, Mims says he is ready to put in the time to master the Jets’ offense and wants to become best friends with Sam Darnold, saying, “I’m proud to be a Jet and I can’t wait to go to work.”