After a tumultuous 1-11 season in 2017, Baylor is having a bit of a bounce back year. After Saturday’s home win against a solid Kansas State squad, Baylor is up to 4-2 on the year, and a respectable 2-1 in the Big 12. averaging 43 points per game, Head Coach Matt Rhule has Baylor’s offense playing at a level that college football fans have grown accustomed to seeing from the Bears.
The offense has found its stride on the strength of their top two receivers - Jalen Hurd and returning All-Big 12 first-team performer Denzel Mims.
Mims found himself atop of my Preseason Top 5 wide receivers in the conference, yet I’ve seen the improvements in his game to suggest his draft stock is still increasing.
With another legitimate threat on the offense in Hurd, it’s opened the door for Mims to eat this season, and eat he has.
He’s gotten at least 80 receiving yards in 4 of the 5 games he’s played in this season. The two most talented secondaries Mims has played were in his last two games against Oklahoma and Kansas State, and he’s gone for a combined 19 receptions, 204 yards, and 2 touchdowns in those two games. Nearly unguardable with his combination of size and athleticism, Mims has been feasting on the cornerbacks in the Big 12.
Entering the season, the positive traits that Mims possessed were obvious. His ball skills and the way he extended towards the catchpoint was nearly flawless. The body control he had in order to position his frame to make those extended grabs was elite. At 6-foot-3, this made up a receiver with an incredible catch radius.
As a former decorated track and field athlete, Mims’ acceleration and long speed were evident on film. His ability to separate vertically after slight hesitations allowed him to consistently win deep last season.
Though his route running technique had question marks, his athleticism could often trump it and his breaks would still be efficient. Additionally, he always did a nice job of threatening leverage and space in his stems, and could win inside in the redzone as a result.
This season, Mims has actually begun to improve and round out his game as a complete wide receiver rather than being just an athlete playing the position.
On this play against Oklahoma, you can see Mims run a curl route into a window in the zone defense. Despite his length, he’s able to drop his hips and keep his break crisp. His pads are low, and he avoids false steps at the top of his route. This technique is an improvement upon what Mims put on film last season.
Against against Oklahoma, you see Mims’ redzone potential. His size allowed this win at the catchpoint, but his awareness to break his route off and create a rub gave him the necessary separation. Additionally, his break is clean and fluid. It’s become obvious on film that Mims’ overall route running has steadily improved.
It was evident against Oklahoma that Mims is becoming increasingly consistent as an intermediate route runner, able to break horizontally and accelerate. The way in which Mims cuts and snaps his head back to the quarterback has allowed for more tight window throws over the middle, and allows him to produce at all levels of the field.
With the improvements Mims has made in his technique, his potential ceiling is continuing to heighten. His size and athleticism combination seemed near the top of the class last season, and he’s added some bulk and strength. Just a true junior, expect that trend to continue.
Now, with consistent technique refinement, Mims is showing the tools of a potential round 1 prospect.
When a wide receiver can make plays like this, it’s easy to see why.