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2020 New York Jets Draft Profile: Denzel Mims

With their first pick of the 2020 NFL Draft, the Jets drafted what they hope to be their franchise offensive tackle. Joe Douglas selected Louisville left tackle Mekhi Becton with the 11th overall pick to strengthen a problematic offensive line. This had been the biggest issue with the 2019 New York Jets, allowing the fourth-most sacks during the regular season (52).

Then there was another issue which made the team suffer last year. In fact, it was a trait of the second-worst offensive unit, which shouldn’t be underestimated. The Jets provided inadequate turnout in nearly every offensive category, but lack of depth impacted their receiving core more than anything. Well, except pass protection.

Therefore, this was another goal entering the Draft. The Jets ultimately had to address it on day two. That wasn’t an easy task as many quality receivers, perhaps too many, went in the first round. Laviska Shenault Jr., the elite pass-catcher, which was expected to fall the most due to injury woes, went to the Jaguars in the early part of Round 2.

The Jets seemed to have multiple options when they were on the clock with the 48th pick. That’s when Jow Douglas, knowing the trends of the late wide-receiving market, traded down. Subsequently, he added what he needed and gained extra draft capital in the process. The X factor we’re referring to is Baylor wideout, Denzel Mims.

Mims, according to many evaluators, might be the most underrated wide receiver of a historic 2020 draft class. He’s valuable in a lot more than just the long-distance passing game. His numbers have credibility. Also, he’s exactly what the Jets need to improve upon last year’s mostly dissatisfying offensive display.

Collegiate Career (Baylor)

Nov 30, 2019; Lawrence, KS, USA; Baylor Bears wide receiver Denzel Mims (5) catches a pass against the Kansas Jayhawks during the first half at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Over the past three years, he’s only missed one game of the 38 the Bears had in that span. Also, a big reason why his numbers are impressive is that he’s recorded at least 60 receptions in two of those three seasons.

The Bears made a ten-game improvement over three years, going from 1-11 in 2018 to 11-3 in 2019. Charlie Brewer was the starting quarterback for the majority of the season in all three campaigns. Needless to say, Denzel Mims was perhaps the most significant help he could have had. All along, Mims was either an undisputed top target or a solid 55-plus-catch second-choice receiver. In 2019, he had 21 receptions more than the next closest receiver. Back in 2017, he had almost 30 receptions more than the number-two option Pooh Stricklin. He went over the 1,000-yard mark in both campaigns.

What He Brings to the Team

From Jets Round-By-Round: Second Round:

“Mims just might be the most underrated receiver in this year’s draft. Sure, he might not be as explosive as CeeDee Lamb and as complete as Jerry Jeudy. But he succeeds in every component that could make him a top target on the pro level (“ticks all the boxes” as scouts like to say).

During four seasons with the Bears, Mims recorded nearly 3,000 yards through the air. That includes two seasons with at least 1,000 yards. In a statistical plan, what makes him NFL-worthy could be the consistency he’s proven to show in college. He had 60-plus catches in two of his four seasons, the latter of which concluded with career-high 12 touchdowns.

His playing style resembled that of elite NFL receivers. He’s very physical while remaining quite quick on the go. Meanwhile, his route-running skills compare only with Jerry Jeudy’s elite route running. It helps him get separation and not get shut down by top cornerbacks. That makes him valuable in both the long-threat and the intermediate game.

There’s no question – Denzel Mims has what it takes to transfer his talents to the NFL successfully. And while he isn’t as highly thought of as some of the early-first-round receivers, if anyone belongs there, it’s him. Having said that, he still might not fall to the Jets at 48th. As we noted, there’re lots of good wide receivers, and a lot of teams need more of them. Also, every team from late-first onwards could look to, surprisingly, squeeze Mims. The Packers and the Bears are among those who have met with Mims.”

From New York Jets: Day Two Draft Grades:

Grade: A+

Getting Mims would have been an enormous win even without all the trading done. However, to get the Pick 101, subsequently turned into two fourth-rounders and still have him at 59th, that’s a work of a magician.

It’s been talked so much about how valuable Mims could be that his draft spot was a travesty. Mims could be one of the most impactful receivers in this year’s draft class. In the past three years, he’s had two 1,000-plus-yard campaigns and has recorded 55 or more catches in all three years. His workload gives credibility to his numbers, which is going to play an even more prominent role as he’ll be one of the bigger faces Sam Darnold’s receiving corps.

Furthermore, his film justifies trusting him even more. He’s a terrific route runner and a very successful pass-catcher on contested catches. His vertical work on fooling corners has been incredible, but also intermediate-game usage could provide him the opportunity to shine. That’ll be vital with the Jets looking for consistency and Breshad Perriman being a limited long-threat weapon.

What hasn’t been justified, however, was his downfall in draft value. Experts saw Justin Jefferson, Jalen Reagor, and others going higher anyway. Nevertheless, he wasn’t a part of the wide receiver frenzy. By the time the Jets were on the clock with the 48th pick, the receiving options were down to him and LSU receiver Van Jefferson. What makes Joe Douglas look like an even bigger genius for exploiting the market was that there was more than one team potentially looking for a receiver between 48th and 59th. Moreover, the market was so inefficient that Jefferson’s value increased as opposed to Mims’s.

What went right for Douglas? From one standpoint, it could have been a ripple effect of Denver’s 46th pick going to Penn State receiver K.J. Hamler. To most Jets people, the Broncos were the last threat on their path to Mims. Not to say selecting Hamler is bad in their case – Denver already has two very consistent receivers, who are both good route runners in the middle of the field and vertically. Although they lost crucial pieces at cornerback and in the defensive line, they could use a wildcard weapon down the field less regularly than their earlier pick.

That suddenly meant that the market correlations were as clear as ever – they valued speed and vertical success rather than consistency and believability of figures through repeated success. This had begun so much earlier with Jalen Reagor and Brandon Aiyuk going in the first. On the outside of the receiving battle, Seattle made a reach for Derrell Taylor, who would have been there even at 59. Why? Experts projected him to go in the third round. Steelers and Rams picking Chase Claypool and Van Jefferson sealed the win for Douglas.

Both Jefferson and Claypool are very flashy. The media loves them. Despite Jefferson never having 50 catches in a season. Despite Claypool being a consistent player with 66 receptions/15.7 average per reception only just this past year. The damage is more limited for Pittsburgh and Denver – both Hamler and Claypool could be what they are looking for, given the specifics of their respective cores. However, from the Hamler pick on, it was possible to predict that Mims, a consistency machine and a player who could be trusted against NFL corners, would fall even deeper.”

Sep 21, 2019; Houston, TX, USA; Baylor Bears wide receiver Denzel Mims (5) makes a catch against the Rice Owls late in the fourth quarter at Rice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Strengths and weaknesses

Strengths – Route running, Utilization in the intermediate game, Success on contested catches

Weakness – Explosiveness in the vertical game

How He Fits With the Jets

There’s one thing certain about the Jets passing game last year – it was weak. However, it definitely wasn’t Darnold to blame. When he had either decent protection or more than just Jamison Crowder as a target, he would do miracles. Surprisingly, Robby Anderson had a quiet campaign, which didn’t help the air raid at all.

Now, he isn’t even with the team anymore. Therefore, the Jets only had Quincy Enunwa to rely on besides Crowder. For that reason, they went and, immediately after losing Robby, signed former Buccaneers speedster Brashad Perriman.

Perriman and Enunwa are far from flawless, though. Enunwa had not one but two neck injuries and missed both the 2017 and (almost entirely) the 2019 season. Meanwhile, Perriman is an avid long-threat target but lacks the workload of a top target to be trusted enough. His ceiling isn’t much higher than Anderson’s, but he could the downfield threat they need if he steps up.

Denzel Mims will become a top option in the short and intermediate passing game right away, alongside Crowder. His track record sets him up perfectly for such a role.


Follow me on Twitter @TeodorTsenov for more of my content and follow @OT_Heroics!

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Teodor
Jets and Marlins writer for Overtime Heroics, as well as an NFL and MLB writer for Franchise Sports UK. From Bulgaria.
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