Once a polarizing prospect, Baylor's Denzel Mims has taken his post-collegiate career work by storm. He improved his profile at the 2020 Senior Bowl with a strong week's worth of practice, followed by eye-popping results at the NFL Combine. A tall receiver who dominated in the end zone, Mims is a former Texas track champ who played double-duty as a cornerback on his high school team. He went on to be a three-year starter at Baylor, gaining 27 pounds during his time there and adding a physical element to his game. In each of those three seasons, he had a minimum of 50 receptions, eight touchdowns and 14.4 yards per catch. Mims is aiming to be one of the top receivers in the deep 2020 class — and find a new team by the end of Round 2 of the draft.
Numbers to Know
Height: 6-2 7/8
Weight: 207 pounds
Age: Oct. 10, 1997 (Week 1 age: 21)
Hand: 9 3/8 inches
Arm: 33 7/8 inches
Wingspan: 78 4/8 inches
40 time: 4.39 seconds
Three-cone agility drill: 6.66 seconds
2019: 13 games, 66 receptions, 1,020 yards, 15.5 yards per catch, 12 touchdowns
The Bears played just two games against ranked schools in 2019. Mims collected 11 balls for 167 yards and three scores against Oklahoma and Georgia, gaining at least 75 yards and at least one touchdown in each game.
2017-2019 (three year starter): 37 games, 182 receptions, 2,901 yards, 15.9 yards per catch, 28 touchdowns
Known Injury History
- Thumb surgery, April 2019
Mims is a skyscraper — nearly 6-foot-3 with a 38 1/2-inch vertical jump and nearly 34-inch arms. He brings a generous catch radius to the field and makes acrobatic catches on throws that are high or poorly thrown (or both). Mims did this reasonably well on the regular on both short tosses and deeper throws. At times it looked like he was a man playing football with little kids, reaching high over smaller defensive backs for highlight-reel catches, sometimes with short jaunts to the end zone after the grab.
His burst off the snap is solid before gliding, not accelerating, into his route. His long legs make him look slower than he actually is but he can move downfield. Mims is also very physical, almost to a fault. His long arms and power are his best tools to help him separate, though it has drawn offensive pass interference penalties. He's a good blocker in the run game, frequently mauling defensive backs off the snap.
Mims is fast — there's proof of that in his film from 2017, 2018 and the 2020 Combine. So why didn't I see him separate with his speed in 2019? Was he hurt? There were too many plays where a defender stayed right on his hip. That's part of the reason why he had 20 contested catches, the second-most in college football last year. But Mims had just a 48.8% contested catch rate, only slightly above average according to Pro Football Focus. PFF also noted Mims' low yards after catch per reception average (2.8 yards, tied for 308th among college receivers with 50-plus targets), suggesting he didn't often break away from coverage when he did make catches like he used to. Can Mims bring that acceleration back so he can get consistent targets game after game?
Also, Mims had seven dropped passes in 2019, and 12 in 2018. Sometimes he'd make jaw-dropping circus catches and sometimes he'd drop easy slant passes. Could this habit cost him the chance at serious playing time?
Mims' route-running also left something to be desired. He seemed inconsistent — his stutter-steps were convincing but he'd round his cuts frequently. Double-moves looked unnatural and didn't open up space. He also didn't run everything on the route tree and did nearly all of his damage lined up wide. That's something he began improving on at the Senior Bowl, but unless coaches are confident in his progress, it might stunt his path to every-down work.
And yes, Mims is tall and physical but he's also lanky and wasn't a consistent tackle-breaker. Does he have the power to barrel through NFL defenders' tackles?
I'd like it a lot better if Mims weren't rushed onto the field and given time to improve his technique. Davante Adams had a similar profile coming out of school and took three years to break out despite being a second-round pick (and Adams didn't top 1,000 yards until his fifth year). Fantasy managers shouldn't bank on dividends from Mims in 2020 unless he finds himself in the perfect spot with plenty of targets. Short of that, he could get lucky and be a red-zone threat that reels in six scores throughout the upcoming season, but even 800 yards seems rather optimistic.
Favorite Fantasy Fits
If we're hoping for Mims to take at least a year to get acclimated before taking off, teams like the Colts, Cowboys, Lions, Bengals and especially the Steelers have the talent on hand in 2020 to use before giving way to Mims in 2021. And it's not to say Mims wouldn't contribute in 2020, just that he wouldn't HAVE to be relied upon.
But that's not what Fantasy managers want. We want him to be great NOW! The usual receiver-needy teams like the Packers and Eagles would be okay fits — at least in those places he'd see very few double-teams and could hit the 750 yard, six-touchdown threshold. The Raiders could also stand to improve their outside receiver situation and Mims could play sooner there. Green Bay would probably be the best spot for his Fantasy value.
Fantasy Bottom Line
His Senior Bowl and Combine highlights notwithstanding, Mims is not all the way to a finished product. That's kind of exciting, but the reality is he's going to take time to become special, if he'll be special at all. If he's drafted in seasonal formats, it'll be with a late pick. The story will change in long-term formats where his potential will make him a Round 9-plus choice. Furthermore, bank on Mims being one of the first six or seven receivers taken in a rookie-only draft, likely with a pick between ninth and 15th overall.