Remember last off-season? When the New York Jets somehow landed the highly touted Baylor receiver Denzel Mims in the second round despite trading down. At the time, general manager Joe Douglas was praised for the move, as fans were excited to see what he can bring to the team.
Now, there are people who believe that after one season, Mims is already on the roster bubble. A thought that is just downright ridiculous for many reasons.
Denzel Mims is a starting-caliber talent
The first and most obvious reason is Mims skill at the position. This is a guy that some viewed as a first-round talent who slid to the second round because of how loaded the wide receiver class was in 2020. From the moment he was drafted 59th overall, the expectation was that he would be a starter.
Ultimately, hamstring injuries limited Mims’ playtime last year. He wound up starting eight of nine games played, recording 357 yards on 23 receptions. Mims flashed his jump ball ability, coming down with numerous big catches down the sideline. His game is built around using his size to come down with catches, something he put on full display as a rookie. It is that awareness he has on contested catches New York has desperately missed over the past few years that makes Mims so important to this team.
Slowed by injuries to date
As previously mentioned, Mims's first year and a half in the pros have been hindered by injuries. His rookie season saw him miss a chunk of training camp, the pre-season, and his first six regular season games. Fast forward to this off-season, when Mims saw a delayed start due to illness before coming back. Since then, he has found himself being worked in with the second and third-team offense. Then again, that is not his fault by any means.
Depth at wide receiver
This may very well be the deepest Jets receiving corps since the Jets AFC Championship appearing teams a decade ago. Corey Davis is coming off a career year, Jamison Crowder was a stud in 2020, and Keelan Cole offers a versatile veteran. Second-round pick Elijah Moore is already looking like the steal of the draft, playing his way onto the first-team squad with Davis and Crowder. Not to mention, guys like Braxton Berrios, Vyncint Smith, and even D.J. Montgomery have shown out during training camp.
There are many factors into Mims role during training camp. The biggest is the talent the Jets have at receiver because it has the potential to be the best group they have had in years. One cannot underscore the training delay he had this off-season due to injury, as well as his transition into the new scheme too.
System does play a role
Let’s take a moment to look back at how scouts viewed Mims before the draft. Here is NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein on Mims…
“Mims is a long-striding outside target with excellent height, weight, and speed and an insane catch radius. He’s a touchdown threat anytime he’s near the red zone, with the focus and body control to finesse and finish catches above the rim. He struggles to release and separate from physical press corners, and he doesn’t consistently compete and outwork opponents for positioning on contested catches. If the route work and intensity catch up with his natural athletic ability, he could become a dangerous “Z” receiver in a vertical offense, but the floor might be lower than some teams are comfortable with.”
Fast forward to today, this analysis could not be more spot on. Mims is that long-striding boundary receiver who wins with his size and can bring down any jump ball. His injuries prevented him from practicing, learning offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur’s new offense.
Mims is still improving as a route runner, which must be crisp to be successful in the Jets offense. Until he does so, Mims will remain the uber-talented backup receiver who will primarily be used in the red zone and when stretching the field. Not a player who is on the verge of hitting the waiver wire.