I should preface this by saying that an early second round grade on Denzel Mims is completely fair. I like Mims as a prospect, a ton—but the idea that he should be in play at 21 for the Eagles is reckless, and the idea that he’s a top 5 wideout in this elite class is comical.
For me, the conversation on Denzel Mims starts and ends with his inability to separate—which we often forget is literally job 1A of a receiver; 1B of course being the ability to actually catch the football; and wayyy down that list at like four or five is the ability to win a jump ball (though the hype-beasts on Twitter love it!).
While it’s pretty clear he’s not a polished route runner, I won’t split hairs with you if you think his routes are better than advertised—agree to disagree. Either way, Mims still doesn’t get adequate separation—chalk it up to poor footwork, lack of explosion, lack of quickness—that much is indisputable. On tape you won’t be able to find consistent reps where he puts a decent amount of daylight between him and his man (though you’ll predictably find him streaking through busted coverages in the Big-12).
His strides are long, his hips are stiff, and he just isn’t explosive or jittery out of breaks. This doesn’t mean he can’t be a fine wide receiver, but it sure will limit him. Mims is getting good hype now because he ran a 40-yard dash a good two-tenths of a second better than anticipated (a significant jump) but that couldn’t mean less. Turn on the tape and you’ll see a prodding wideout who needs a long time to build up to speed.
Obviously Mims’ game doesn’t necessarily need separation in the same way that Alshon Jeffery doesn’t need much separation—a big target with well-timed routes and an ability to play above the rim is somewhat ideal for your boundary wideout (think digs, slants, comebacks, and go-routes).
The problem with that is, how do you square that profile with his obvious struggles in press release? Route running is one thing, but releasing from the LOS against physical corners is another, and Mims is neither good at it now, nor does his athletic profile lend itself to developing that (see: lack of foot speed/lack of upper body strength).
And in regard to his “elite” jump ball ability, Mims is really good, but those skills aren’t elite. Say what you want about JJ Arcega-Whiteside, I ripped that pick last year, but his jump ball skills were undisputedly elite—when comparing their red zone tape, JJAW puts Mims to shame in terms of body positioning/control, and natural high-pointing ability.
We live an era where any 6’3” Joe with a highlight tape is a “jump ball specialist,” and this is a prime example. Being tall doesn’t automatically make you good at playing above the rim, I’m not sure who needs to hear that, but it needs to be said in relation to Mims. I’ll show you five to ten prospects in this class with better jump-ball production that Mims.
If you see him as an ideal replacement for Jeffery’s role in the offense, I agree with you! That’s spot on. But sadly we don’t have another top 40 pick, and if you’re suggesting we use the 21st pick on someone like that then you’ve completely lost me.
If you like Mims over Reagor I’m really not sure what you’re looking at—is the best possible version of Mims better than Reagor? Uhhh, maybe? Buuut, probably not. And when comparing their floors it’s just not close—Reagor (and a handful of others) by a landslide.
I thought Eagles fans were done getting all hot and bothered by “tall, jump ball receivers” after the JJAW debacle. Birds fans aren’t alone in fetishizing height, it’s a league wide problem, but it’s surprising to hear from a fanbase that watched a full season of wide receivers struggling to get open for their quarterback. And considering Howie’s comments about needing more speed, I can assure you, Mims’ one-dimensional long speed is absolutely not what he was referring to.