FORT WORTH, TEXAS - NOVEMBER 09: Denzel Mims #5 of the Baylor Bears tries to hang on to the ball on a two-point attempt against the TCU Horned Frogs in the third overtime period at Amon G. Carter Stadium on November 09, 2019 in Fort Worth, Texas.
(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

New York Jets wide receivers coach Shawn Jefferson believes Denzel Mims possesses an “uncanny ability to make contested catches.”

Robby Sabo

Entering “the league” as a rookie is no small chore. Doing so as a wide receiver is even tougher. Combine outputs such as 40-time and vert jumps only reveal a fraction of the entire pie. Physical attributes don’t allow personnel-decision makers and coaches in on a kid’s willingness and ability to read defenses—coverages, in this specific instance.

Denzel Mims enters the NFL during one of the strangest times in its illustrious history. Not only does he have to contend with his rookie status in 2020, but he’s also forced to get acquainted with his surroundings virtually.

Much like Frank Sinatra’s, “If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere,” Mims’s ability to grasp Adam Gase’s offense virtually while learning the NFL’s unique coverage schemes will go a long way towards his rookie production.

Not everything’s a negative in today’s NFL, however. The positives of a virtual offseason come in the form of messaging tidbits. New York Jets wide receiver coach Shawn Jefferson is already on the Mims bandwagon, wholly believing the kid possesses the goods to make that tough transition from the collegiate field to the pros.

“He’s a really good person, first of all,” Jefferson told reporters on a Wednesday conference call. “Very mature for his age. He picks up things well.”

Mims, 22, enters the league as the perfect prototype to potentially be labeled as Sam Darnold‘s No. 1 weapon. Standing 6-foot-3 with speed and lankiness that normal human beings could rarely couple, the sky just may be the limit for the Baylor product.

“He brings speed along with the uncanny ability to make contested catches,” Jefferson added.

Think Cincinnati Bengals wideout A.J. Green. Mims’s ability to go up and grab the ball at the high point while contested is a trait desired at this level. Sprinkle in his boundary awareness with agile feet and suddenly, Darnold now has a weapon that can play the back-shoulder/sideline game on a consistent basis.

The source is also as legitimate as it can possibly be. Jefferson—who came to the Jets with Gase a year ago—spent 13 seasons in the NFL. Drafted in the ninth round of the 1991 NFL draft by the Houston Oilers, it wasn’t always smooth sailing for the Central Florida product.

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After a disappointing rookie year with the San Diego Chargers, he battled for a career. In 1994, Jefferson put together a 16-game season totaling 627 yards and three touchdowns on 43 receptions—a far cry from his 125-yard rookie campaign.

While never an outright superstar, Jefferson’s career continued with the New England Patriots where he helped Bill Parcells’s club to Super Bowl 31. Jefferson’s workmanlike attitude fit perfectly with the coaches who desired great locker room and field leaders wanting to do the right thing by the team.

“I don’t coach the player. I coach the man. If the man is right, the player is allowed to do what it needs to do,” Shawn Jefferson on how he coaches.

It’s probably the reason his transition to coaching—starting with the Detroit Lions in 2006—has looked so incredibly smooth from a distance.

With Jefferson and Hines Ward standing by, Denzel Mims is fully supported as he enters the NFL during such a strange time for the world. If the Jets wide receiver coach is correct, the kid is already equipped with a head and unique talent (contested catches) that will grant him a tremendous head start.


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