Sam Darnold, Denzel Mims
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Rookie wide receiver Denzel Mims is the perfect medicine for what ails New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold at the moment.

Robby Sabo

Name the last catch-in-traffic, go-up-and-get-it, sideline-acrobat-type weapon Sam Darnold’s had at his disposal in the NFL.

No. The New York Jets quarterback has never had the company of a wide receiver named crickets.” That’s simply the sound of nothingness to the question while one of nature’s most interesting (and annoying) creatures provide the background noise.

Denzel Mims is ready to change everything for Darnold.

Mims, 22, was inexplicably drafted in the latter stages of the second round of the 2020 NFL draft. The 59th overall selection is an A.J. Green-type talent who can play the one-on-one game unlike anybody the Jets employed over the last two years.

Darnold is already impressed, as he told reporters on a conference call in early May.

“Denzel, watching his highlights for Baylor, he’s a great playmaker,” Darnold said. “I’m glad to have him.”

Think NFL in the year 2020. This isn’t your Al Davis straight-line speed passing game anymore. Thanks to the pass-happy rules that really changed the game in the late 2000s, a one-on-one matchup is an advantage for the offense every time. The days of the lockdown corner is over—and yes, that includes Stephon Gilmore.

Robby Anderson simply didn’t provide Darnold and the Jets offense that advantage.

Anderson would far too often fail when the catch-in-traffic challenge presented itself. Take Week 1, for example. A taller outside threat needs to showcase the ability to attack the ball at its highest point. The newest Carolina Panthers wideout rarely did that.

Darnold underthrew the ball a bit while facing a six-man rush, but that’s exactly the point. A quarterback’s top option needs to showcase the ability to make something out of nothing.

Instead of waiting for the ball to softly fall into his hands, he must come back a bit and attack it at the high-point. The mentality to ensure the ball is his and nobody else’s just wasn’t there with the Temple product.

The Baylor guy, however, is just constructed in a totally different manner.

From back-shoulder to toe-tapping to high-point and catch-in-traffic skills, this kid should develop nicely as Darnold’s go-to guy.

It may take some time initially for the kid to learn the offense and navigate through professional coverages, but he’ll definitely get there. Hard work and a blue-collar attitude won’t let him fail.

Even Darnold heard about the kid’s worth ethic in early May.

“I’ve heard from a bunch of people he’s a guy with great work ethic,” Darnold said. 

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Perhaps, by now, the two are already buddies. After all, they have unofficially hooked up on the field down in Florida during the offensive training session put together by the two-year vet QB.

The thing Anderson had going for him most was his availability. Missing just two games in four seasons helps offenses greatly in this league of uncertainty. As for Mims, the same can be said.

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Mims played the 2018 season through a hand injury, resulting in some ugly drops.

When healthy, there’s no questioning his contested-catch ability. Not even Jets wide receiver coach Shawn Jefferson could hold back his excitement when thinking about his young student.

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

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

When thinking about a major operation, think offensive line. The big heavies marked overwhelming issue for Darnold, Adam Gase and the Jets offense in 2019. Joe Douglas—playing the role of doctor—hopes to have pulled off successful surgery.

When thinking about at-home medicine, think weapons, think security blanket. That’s Denzel Mims, a kid who brings skills to the table the Jets haven’t employed around here since the likes of Brandon Marshall.

Assuming all goes well in post-op, this kid is the perfect teaspoon of get-well liquid for young Sam Darnold. Although, it might be a safe assumption the good folks of Philadelphia disagree.


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