Rookie Spotlight: Denzel Mims, Baylor
Height: 6’2 3/4″
strong>Weight: 206 pounds
Hands: 9 1/4″
Arm: 33 1/4″
40 yard dash: 4.50 (unofficial)
NFL Comparison: DeVante Parker, Kenny Golladay, EQ St. Brown
– extremely wide catch radius
– impressive body control
– aggressive at point of catch
– consistent run blocker
– former track, basketball and baseball athlete
– former QB
– economy of motion
– massive team receiving TD share
– MONSTER week at the Senior Bowl
– routes sometimes go unfinished
– lapses in concentration
– can rely too much on his athleticism
– has shown tendency for drops
2019 Team Market Share Numbers
24% team receptions
29% team receiving yards
50% team receiving TDs
Scouting Notes: Mims is somewhat under the radar, but he packs a punch on the field, playing with a heated fervor – most of the time. Mims has a knack for gliding past his corners and catching the ball falling away, keeping the ball away out of the reach of his defender, and his long arms further help his cause. For a big guy, he’s got excellent body control, stopping suddenly and contorting his body to adjust to the ball, something that came in handy when less-than-accurate throws came his way. He usually snatches the ball in and instant and brings it close to his body, so he rarely gets it knocked away. Mims brings intensity to his blocking as well, squaring up against his defender well, though he sometimes fails to finish the play. This issue of “failing to finish” was, at least, not as troublesome with the actual catching of the football in 2019 as it was in 2018, when Pro Football Focus graded Mims with having dropped 11 of 66 catchable targets.
I think of Mims as more explosive than fast, though he is a former sprinter – perhaps he just reserves his energy until the opportune time. He is a threat to take a slant to the house at any time, but doesn’t necessarily show that same functional speed in all aspects of his game. And because of his athletic prowess, he doesn’t have to rely on sharp route running, which has worked for him for the most part, but may prove fatal in the pros. He has shown improvement in that area over his time at Baylor though, so he’s got potential to thrive with solid instruction. He needs to dig harder into his routes and explode at the stem in the same way he can be explosive in his initial release. He stays too upright through his breaks currently.
Fantasy Outlook: Mims has a sky high ceiling, but his unpolished route running and lapses in concentration at times could keep him mired in mediocrity in the NFL. If he can develop into a fundamentally sound player, his field stretching motor and his ability to catch the ball where no one else can get it will take him far. He was often used on fades in the end zone at Baylor, and I can see him being implemented in a similar manner at the next level. Mims could easily become a team’s go-to guy, but we’ve seen many players of his ilk fade into obscurity for missing the details that it takes to beat NFL corners with consistency. We’ll get a better look at Mims at the Senior Bowl, but he’s an early favorite of mine to be a major sleeper in this year’s draft.
BAYLOR ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT FEATURE:”BACK TO BEING HIMSELF” by Jerry Hill
NEW ORLEANS – Not that his numbers were far off a fantastic sophomore season when he became the 10th 1,000-yard receiver in Baylor program history, but Denzel Mims felt like he took a “huge step back” last season. His words, no one else’s.
“I felt like I wasn’t out there being myself,” said Mims, who still hauled in 55 passes for 794 yards and eight touchdowns last year.
“I wasn’t focused, I wasn’t myself the whole season, I wasn’t healthy. I knew coming into this season that I had to handle my business and be there for my brothers, because there were a lot of times last year where I wasn’t there when they needed me, and I wasn’t making the plays they were expecting me to make. So, I knew I had to do a whole lot better.”
The 6-3, 215-pound senior from Daingerfield, Texas, certainly checked that box. Earning first-team All-Big 12 honors from the league coaches, Mims had 61 receptions for 945 yards and a career-high 11 touchdowns in leading the seventh-ranked Bears (11-2) to a matchup against No. 5 Georgia (11-2) in Wednesday’s Sugar Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
“To be Sugar Bowl champs, to have an unbelievable record, one of the best records in Baylor history, it means a lot,” Mims said, “because this is my last season. We went 1-11 (in 2017), which was tough, it was frustrating. And then. we went 7-6, it was frustrating, too. But coming here and being 11-2, it’s amazing. I just want to finish on a strong note with a win so that it can be even more amazing.”
Despite being projected to go somewhere in the first four rounds of April’s NFL Draft, Mims looked at Matt Rhule “like I was nuts” when the third-year Baylor head coach asked him if he was going to play in the bowl game.
“When he asked me that, I wanted to walk off,” Mims said. “Of course, I can’t walk off from someone like that. But, I was like, ‘Are you kidding me, playing Georgia? I want to play.’ . . . I’ve thought about (the NFL), but my focus right now has been to play Georgia and try to get this win. I always wanted to finish the season with my brothers. I started it with them, so I want to finish it with them.”
A national top 300 recruit and three-sport standout at Daingerfield High School, Mims had a breakout season as a sophomore in Rhule’s first year. He earned second-team All-Big 12 honors, catching 61 passes for 1,087 yards (17.8-yard average) and eight TDs.
Sharing the spotlight last year with Jalen Hurd, a Tennessee transfer who was drafted in the third round by the San Francisco 49ers, Mims saw his production slip a little. But this year, he regained the mantle of being Baylor’s go-to receiver and established himself as one of the top receivers in the country.
“I think each year, he’s gotten a lot better,” junior quarterback Charlie Brewer said at Monday’s media session. “He’s kind of grown into a guy that in crucial situations, he wants the ball and I’m going to give it to him, because I know he’s going to make the play. He’s turned into that kind of player that demands ball in that situation and is able to go make the play.”
Before having a string of 36 consecutive games with at least one catch snapped in the Big 12 Championship game, Mims caught two TD passes in overtime play in a 29-23 three-OT win at TCU; added two more TD grabs in a 34-31 loss to Oklahoma; and made two unbelievable catches in the 24-10 win over Texas that sewed up a Big 12 title game spot.
“I just know when it gets late in those type of games, I’ve got to be the one to make plays and help my team out,” said Mims, a Senior Bowl invitee who ranks fifth on Baylor’s all-time career list with 181 catches for 2,850 yards and 27 touchdowns. “I try to get myself ready for those moments.”
Georgia cornerback Eric Stokes says Mims is “one of the best in the country.”
“He’s big, physical, long, he’s really good at 50-50 balls,” Stokes said. “You have to win every little thing; back shoulders. I can go on and on about him. He’s a great player.”
One of the biggest things for Mims this year was playing through pain and nagging injuries. As a junior, he wasn’t on the field late in the game at Texas when Brewer had three throws into the end zone to win it.
“This is a game of attrition, it’s a war of attrition,” Rhule said. “Who can play when they don’t feel 100 percent? And he’s been proof positive of that, from training camp to the thumb surgery to all the way through the year, he’s played through everything.”
Mims credits the coaches, trainers and strength in helping him “get where I needed to be, to be healthy and fight through injuries.”
But, he’s also worked at it. Brewer says no one sees all the extra work that Mims puts in before and after every practice, catching endless passes from either the quarterbacks or off the JUGGS machine.
“It’s nice to have someone like that in the (wide receivers) room that can push you and you can learn from,” said sophomore receiver Tyquan Thornton. “We all look up to him as the No. 1 receiver, the leader. We look up to him, we learn from him, and he pushes us. He takes us with him, pushes us like, ‘Hey, let’s go, we’re going to go catch some balls, run some extra routes.’ Last year, he wasn’t really the leader type, he was just going with the flow. But this year, he knew he had to step up.”
Junior running back John Lovett said one of his biggest goals is to send seniors like Mims and offensive lineman Sam Tecklenburg out as winners.
“We’ve all had moments where we feel like we let the team down,” Tecklenburg said, “but he’s been a heck of a player for us, obviously. This year, I think he’s taken it to another level. He’s having his best year yet. I think he’s grown up a lot in his career. He just seems like a really mature player now. Whatever he’s saying over there, that just shows the accountability he has and how much he wants to produce for this team. And he does. He’s a heck of a player.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: Like all rookie profiles, this one will continue to be updated through the winter and spring with intel as we acquire it. When applicable/available, these profiles will be supplemented with transcriptions of scouting combine interviews with the players following the event, new photos and videos as well as other media we can gather through our offseason pursuits of fantasy dominance.