INDIANAPOLIS — Baylor's Denzel Mims is facing a daunting task: standing out among a crowded 2020 class of wide receivers.
Mims is currently the 11th-ranked wide receiver and sitting No. 80 overall on TDN's Consensus Big Board. The range of opinions on the senior pass-catcher currently pegs him as a Day 2 prospect. Depending on team preference, Mims' stock could soar as high as the top-50 picks or he may be one of the unfortunate victims of a deep class and see himself still available on the third day of the draft.
Which is more likely?
That depends on how closely you look. Mims' production is good, but he played in the wide-open Big 12 Conference and never really put up star numbers with the Bears. But when putting Mims' resume under the microscope, you will see a lot of little things that can add up to create a big boost to his stock. When asked Tuesday morning what variables separated him from the rest of a crowded group of receivers, Mims was quick to point out two areas: his contested-catch skills and his run blocking.
Yes, the 6-foot-3, First-team All-Big 12 receiver mentioned his blocking as a critical divider between himself and a slew of wideouts all jostling for positioning on draft boards. He's not lying either. Mims received rave reviews for his blocking work at the 2020 Senior Bowl in January and has stated he takes great pride in his ability to run block. It's easy to see why when observing the game tape. Blocks don't show up in the stat sheet but Mims was emphatic that if he wanted to become the player he aspired to be, he'd need to dominate the ground game. Why?
"If you dominate the running game it opens up the passing game,” Mims said. “If I physically dominate my corner it is going to wear him down.”
Sure, Mims also referenced his contested catch ability and his body control when discussing where he's able to stand apart. But his blocking? That's a rarity. And it will also help him leave an impression. Mims embraces it. He's infused it into his identity and DNA as a player.
"I like getting my hands dirty," he quipped.
The key to that tenacity? Humility, which Mims referenced as a stabilizer for his football career as he continues to strive for new heights — a 1-11 season under the direction of Matt Rhule in 2017 will do that to a player. Yet Mims, like the rest of the Bears program, gravitated and committed to Rhule's message and just two years later the team appeared in the Big 12 Championship Game. Mims had a banner season and will look to springboard that mental makeup and physical promise into a high selection.
The approach to the game isn't the only advice Mims seems to have taken to heart from Rhule. When asked what guidance his former coach offered him ahead of the 2020 NFL Draft process, Mims was brief.
"Just be honest," Mims said, shrugging at the podium.
So far, so good. Because Mims' commitment to his craft, in all aspects, is indeed what makes him a unique and promising talent. Humble, physical, long, productive and honest: Mims brings plenty of pros to the table and does so without any of the diva tendencies that standout receivers are stereotyped to have. He just needs to make sure the teams see it during this week's interviews while being receptive to some feedback on where he can get better.
The league's current gripe?
"They want to see me go faster once I get into my routes," Mims said.
The good news? Footwork can be taught. Humility and competitive drive? That's something you've either got or you don't. Mims oozes both and that is sure to leave a mark. Sometimes the little things are all the difference, and Mims looks to be our next reminder of that this spring.