Denzel Mims is the Wild Card of Deep WR Class in 2020 NFL Draft

Gary Davenport@@IDPSharksNFL AnalystApril 19, 2020

Baylor wide receiver Denzel Mims (5) during the Big 12 Championship game against Oklahoma Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019, in Arlington, Texas. Oklahoma won 30-23 in overtime. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)
Brandon Wade/Associated Press

It's a good year to need wide receiver help in the NFL draft. The position's 2020 crop is as deep and talented as any in recent memory. There's something for everyone, whether it's the speed of Alabama's Henry Ruggs III, the size of Clemson's Tee Higgins or the playmaking ability of Oklahoma's CeeDee Lamb.

There's another wide receiver in this year's crop who is gaining steam as Thursday nears who offers teams a combo platter of all those traits. A fast, lanky pass-catcher who piled up 1,020 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2019. A receiver with the potential to offer great value to teams set to pick in the second half of Round 1.

A wild card in this year's stacked deck of wideouts.

That player is Baylor's Denzel Mims, and the buzz around the 6'3", 207-pounder is growing with each passing day.

Mims had no issues racking up the yardage and touchdowns in college. In two of the last three seasons, he topped 1,000 receiving yards. He caught at least eight touchdown passes in each of the last three years—the only player in college football to accomplish that feat. In both 2017 and 2019, Mims averaged over 15 yards per catch.

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But fair or not, Baylor wide receivers aren't regarded as being especially NFL-ready, and first-round busts such as Kendall Wright (2012) and Corey Coleman (2016) have only reinforced that stigma. Heading into draft season, Mims was considered a talented but raw Day 2 prospect.


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But then Mims got to work. As Clint Buckley wrote for 247Sports, Mims was one of the biggest winners at his position at January's Senior Bowl. His explosiveness and ability to make contested catches was known, but Mims also displayed better-than-expected route running in Mobile.

Per Kyle Newman of the Denver Post, Mims admitted at the combine that he can stand to improve that area of his game.

Jerry Larson/Associated Press

"I feel I can do a better job transitioning out of my routes and running my routes," Mims said. "That's what I'm taking pride in and getting better at."

Mims did plenty of talking on the field in Indianapolis too. His blistering 4.38-second 40-yard dash tied for third among all wide receivers. His three-cone-drill time (6.66 seconds) was the best at the position by a massive margin.

ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. told Newman he thought Mims did as much, if not more, to help his stock in the predraft process than any receiver in this class.

"You want to nail the process by having a great year, a great all-star game and then doing well at the NFL combine," Kiper said. "(If you do that), you're going to soar up the board, and Mims did just that. I think between the 19th and 25th pick is a great spot for him."

As Reuben Frank of NBC Sports Philadelphia relayed, Rotoworld's Josh Norris went Kiper one better—he called Mims the third-best wideout in the class of 2020 behind Lamb and Alabama's Jerry Jeudy. Norris said on the Eagle Eye podcast:

"I'm a huge fan of Denzel Mims. The more you watch Denzel Mims the more you realize that he has those little details to his game. It's advanced and it really comes in the form of using his hands, using his elbows, using his shoulders to create that little sliver of separation in his breaks at the catch point. He's just dominant at the catch point. Some might point to him not creating separation and that's why he has to win at the catch point, but I would say that Baylor's predictable offense forced him to do that. None of his production was easy, and I wouldn't be surprised if his best production is ahead of him in the NFL."

Michael Wyke/Associated Press

Mims has been getting quite a bit of run in the City of Brotherly Love, and for good reason. The Eagles, who pick at No. 21 this year, are as desperate for help at wideout as any team. And per Frank, Mims told 94 WIP Radio that Philly has been in touch…a ton.

"I've talked to the Eagles a lot," Mims said. "I talked to them like four times last week. Four or five times last week."

If Mims somehow makes it past the Eagles, he likely won't have to wait long to hear his name called. Dane Brugler of The Athletic believes he'd be a good fit for the Minnesota Vikings at No. 22.

"With the first-rounder they received from Buffalo in the Stefon Diggs trade, the Vikings might turn around and add his replacement at receiver," Brugler said. "No player has helped himself more since the end of the season than Mims, who several teams grade as a top-25 caliber prospect in this draft."

As Jim McBride reported for the Boston Globe, the New England Patriots (who hold pick No. 23) met with Mims at the combine and could be sorely tempted by his considerable physical gifts.

"Mims would give the Patriots an outside-the-numbers speedster with the size and physicality to win 50-50 balls from every route in the receiving tree," McBride wrote.

The Miami Dolphins at No. 26 need to get better opposite DeVante Parker. Ditto for the Green Bay Packers and Davante Adams at No. 30. After losing Emmanuel Sanders in free agency, the NFC champion 49ers could use wideout help at No. 31.

And that's if Mims makes it far enough for any of those teams to have a shot at him. Per Jon Heath of Broncos Wire, Denver has expressed a measure of interest in Mims as well.

The Broncos pick at No. 15.

WACO, TEXAS - NOVEMBER 23:  Denzel Mims #5 of the Baylor Bears celebrates a touchdown pass reception against the Texas Longhorns in the second half at McLane Stadium on November 23, 2019 in Waco, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Wherever he lands, Mims told WIP the team that drafts him will get a player:

"Some of the things I do can't be taught. And of course, there's some things they can teach me I can better at and elevate my game but some of the things I do can't be taught. I'm a great blocker, contested catches, I'm a tall receiver and I'm fluid. I feel like I got that dog in me, especially when it comes to blocking. I feel like that shows a lot. You can't teach someone to be tough. It's either in you or it's not."

Mims won't be the first receiver drafted Thursday (my money's on Lamb). He probably won't be the second. He may not be the third. But the totality of his physical talents is as impressive as any pass-catcher's in this class, and if falling a few spots means landing with an established quarterback such as Carson Wentz or Aaron Rodgers, it could be a blessing in disguise.

If that happens, we may look back in a few years at 2020's wide receiver wild card as one of the biggest steals of the first round.