Does Denzel Mims still have a chance to succeed with the New York Jets?
Regardless, I have high expectations for the former 59th overall pick as he heads into his third season.
Today, I will go into Mims’ struggles, why I believe in him, and where he stands heading into Year 3.
Denzel Mims’ struggles
After two years in the NFL, it seems Mims has had issues every step of the way. Mims slid unexpectedly far in the draft and then suffered a hamstring injury before the preseason, prolonging his rookie debut until Week 7.
Mims played well over his first six games before missing the Jets’ Week 14 game against the Seahawks for personal reasons. From that point on, Mims has not been the same player.
Over his first six games, Mims averaged 3.2 receptions and 54.0 receiving yards per game. Since Week 15 of 2020, Mims has averaged 0.9 receptions for 11.9 yards per game. He has also gone 13 straight games without earning credit for a broken tackle and has two drops on only 27 targets over that span. That’s well below what’s expected of any NFL receiver, let alone a second-round pick.
The biggest disappointment of Mims’ career came late in the 2021 season when he was thrust into a starting role due to injuries.
When given the opportunity to play a featured role, Mims was still a non-factor. Mims played over half of the Jets’ offensive snaps in four games and only caught three passes for 50 yards in those games (12.5 yards per game). That includes two games with zero catches.
While Mims struggled plenty on the field, his struggles off of it have played an equally large role in his issues.
Before the 2021 season, Mims got food poisoning from salmon and lost nearly 20 pounds. The impact was evident as he struggled in offseason workouts and tumbled down the depth chart. He quickly fell out of favor with the coaching staff.
Mims struggled to learn the playbook and his limited route tree was a major issue with the Jets coaching staff. Coming out of college, this was a concern as well.
It’s fair to say Denzel Mims has been a massive disappointment so far in New York. However, it’s far too early to give up on an athlete like Mims.
Denzel Mims has the athleticism to build on early success
After missing the first six weeks of his 2020 rookie season with an injury, Mims quickly became the focal point of the Jets’ offense in 2020.
Mims is one of only seven wide receivers in league history to have at least 40+ receiving yards in each of their first six games. The other players are Andre Johnson, Amari Cooper, Stefon Diggs, Michael Thomas, Ceedee Lamb, and Ja’Marr Chase.
In those six games, Mims also averaged 5.4 yards after the catch and had five broken tackles on 19 receptions. At the time, Mims was starting to look like a top wide receiver who was capable of making plays with the ball in his hands.
While it’s been downhill since, I believe it’s too early to give up on a player as gifted as Mims.
Out of 2,290 historical wide receiver prospects in the Relative Athletic Score (RAS) database, Mims ranks 61st with a RAS of 9.78 out of 10.
Here is how Mims compares to one of the best wide receivers of this generation, Julio Jones.
Even if Mims doesn’t improve as a route runner, his combination of speed and size should at least make him a serviceable deep threat.
Where does Denzel Mims stand heading into Year 3?
Heading into Year 3, Mims is on the outside looking in. He’s at best the fifth wide receiver on the roster and doesn’t play special teams. Some analysts expect him to be cut before the start of the season.
However, fans have been warming up to Mims after several positive reports regarding his offseason training. Expectations are starting to rise as he heads into a critical third year.
Here’s to Denzel Mims having a big season for Gang Green! Have heard nothing but great things from the #Jets on the 2020 2nd-round pick: He’s locked in, in phenomenal shape and ready to show out. That’s the word!!!
— Jordan Schultz (@Schultz_Report) May 9, 2022
Before the Jets’ offseason program, Mims was working with wide receiver coach David Robinson. If he improves as a route runner, he can be dangerous.
#Jets WR Denzel Mims (@Zel5Zelly) has been working with one of the best wide receiver coaches on the planet this offseason: David Robinson (@drobalwayzopen) #TakeFlight #NFL 🎥 krystalk_photos on IG @BUFootball pic.twitter.com/WoV105eIXw
— Paul Andrew Esden Jr (@BoyGreen25) April 6, 2022
Mims currently projects as the Jets’ fifth wide receiver but can push Braxton Berrios for the fourth spot. Mims will get some reps as he is the player best suited to fill Corey Davis’ role whenever the veteran comes off the field. With the Jets already drafting Elijah Moore and Garrett Wilson, Mims has to produce if he wants to stick around.