The NFL Draft is quickly approaching. One of the most essential things about this year’s unique draft is the loaded class at wide receiver that it provides. Without any doubt, CeeDee Lamb, Jerry Jeudy, and Henry Ruggs are bound to all land inside the top 15 with many teams in need for a prolific wideout. However, the evaluations past those three future stars are much less consistent.
The pool of high-quality pass-catchers is as deep as we’ve ever seen it be at any position, in any year. The market is much more inefficient than anyone dares to think. Those who dared started to value one particular asset and his value is currently rapidly trending upwards. His name is Denzel Mims, out of Baylor, and he’s the potential sensation of the 2020 NFL Draft.
The Baylor senior was born in Daingerfield, Texas, and was an All-American with the Tigers in his farewell season. Thanks to him, Daingerfield made it to the quarterfinals of the Region 2 bracket in the UIL Class 3A Championship. In Baylor, he played three full seasons and had 55+ catches in all three years. He had 1,000+ yards in two of those campaigns, including 1,020 in 2019 when he had career-high 66 receptions.
Moreover, his impressive film adds to the stats for his impressive resume. All the traits that successfully translate from the collegiate game to the NFL are his avid strengths and he promises to be very consistent right away. That’s the reason why his value has been going up in the last few weeks leading up the 2020 NFL Draft.
Here are a few plays that might give you a better understanding of why Mims deserves to be placed among the top receivers in this year’s draft class.
As we know, evaluators universally regard Jerry Jeudy to be the best route-runner in the 2020 Draft. This a rightful title for the Alabama wideout but he’s not alone on the island. So are often corners that press-cover Denzel Mims.
The Bears are up against man coverage with no deep safeties. That means Mims already has the advantage of being one-on-one. He makes a great move to beat Oklahoma cornerback Jaden Davis on the go route. Mims is very quick off the move vertically on the route and is almost impossible to stop on Cover-0 or similar formations. When teams leave him one-on-one, he could make it an ugly night for any back. When teams double team him, the middle of the field opens and opponents will be vulnerable in any situation with three receivers from the front side or a post route from a receiver on the weak.
These plays show you why he is reliable in a deep-threat vertical attack. This is a very important note because the further you watch his film, the more it becomes clear how versatile he really is. As many experts point out, he fools the player in coverage from the very beginning of the play, making him an elite route-runner. This has always been a vital quality for a rookie on the NFL level. It makes good and efficient receivers stand out from speedy guys who struggle against press coverage. Mims’ physicality also helps him be trustworthy all over the field.
If we’re pointing out his ability to thrive against any defence or formation, there’s another play to justify this statement. Denzel Mims is running an out route in the wideout. He executes the turn to the outside very cleanly and is wide open the second before the safety comes over. Even a quarterback like Charlie Brewer, with pressure coming, seizes the opportunity to get an 18-yard completion.
The takeaway is that he’s just as valuable in the short and intermediate game as he is down the field.
Many teams would kill for a receiver who gives them steadiness in moving the ball downfield consistently. Because his quarterbacks have been able to trust him in different situations, he ranked among the top 10 in receptions in the Big 12 Conference in 2017 and 2019. Receptions are a statistic, the significance of which is to give credibility to figures such as yards and average per catch. His 195 receptions, sixth all-time in Baylor history, alongside his utilisation in different routes, make his 1,000+ yards very believable.
Once again, Mims lines up on the outside, engaged in man coverage with SF Austin’s Aretavious Hendrix. What he does isn’t something too complicated – a simple stop route. However, the execution is so good that it leaves him wide open. Brewer has the chance to make the throw before the pressure comes and he can’t escape the sack. He dominates what’s probably a bad corner on a small-school team. Yet, it isn’t one bit unimpressive. He still manages to do the same to top corners in the Big 12.
Here Baylor has a 2nd down inside Iowa State’s red zone. Mims is on the left side in man coverage. He initially beats his opponent, then the cornerback holds him. Nevertheless, he makes the catch for the Bears’ first score of the day. On the one hand, it showcases his physicality and success on contested catches. On the other hand, it confirmed Mims can be a decent red-zone target on a weekly basis.
Mims recorded 8 touchdown catches in both 2017 and 2018 but neither year was as strong as 2019. He caught 12 touchdowns, increasing his year-to-year number by 4, and ranked fourth within the Big 12.
All in all, Mims is a terrific receiver whom the early projections, for one reason or another, undervalued as compared to the Big Three of WR in the 2020 NFL Draft. He’s likely to land in late-first round or early-second and would be able to occupy a starting job right out of the gate. His numbers are impressive, his workload was decent and his strengths are all traits that indicate success in the NFL. With many teams needing receivers, his value could further go up as the draft progresses.