Sunday Senior Showcase: Final Film Grades On Big 12 Stars

Photo: © Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Previously, Sunday Senior Showcase has focused on two dominant senior performances from Saturday's games. However, as the season is over, the Showcase will now highlight two seniors for whom I've already uploaded final film reports on the site, and detail some of the intricacies of their film and their NFL projections.

Offense: Baylor WR Denzel Mims

Of all the senior wide receivers I have evaluated so far this year, Denzel Mims has the highest film grade: a late second round grade, which could very well catapult him into a top-40 grade with a strong showing at the Combine in March.

It's worth noting: I have finished film evals on every single Senior Bowl wide receiver announced thus far. So, the best wide receiver at the Senior Bowl, in my estimation, is Denzel Mims.

Mims is as dominant of a receiver at the catch point as you'll find at the collegiate level. His ability to elevate, body control in the air, and awareness of incoming contact and the sideline are all elite traits that will immediately translate to the NFL on the boundary. Take my notes on his Catch Radius and Track/Adjust traits from my final scouting report:

Catch Radius: Could catch the moon if he tried. The ideal "throw it up and let him cook" candidate on the sideline given contortionist control in the air, hand strength, and length. Drops quickly for low balls and has success catching while falling/diving on comebacks or in-breaking routes. Only him and the ball once the throw is in the air — is unperturbed by defender's bodies and makes the requisite adjustments necessary to address the throw. Regularly attacks the ball at the ideal leverage point and has rip-away technique as defensive backs look to disrupt his tuck. Sideline awareness defies explanation.
Track/Adjust: Instinct for the ball's flight path can't be taught. Declares late for the football and does a great job maintaining leverage against his opponent to keep the throwing window open for as long as possible. Manages gears nicely on nine balls to intercept flight path with leverage and at extension; able to make late adjustment to the football if he's out-jostled for position. Timing on jumps rarely fails him; if so, it's on goal line fades.

With all catch-point college receivers, however, we must consume their film with caution. If you cannot separate at the NFL level, you have to build up an almost unsustainable success rate on covered jump balls to warrant enough trust from your QB to be productive, relative to other receivers who may have better route-running and separation ability. This is my fear with another senior receiver: Antonio Gandy-Golden, a dominant catch-point receiver from Liberty who may not have the athletic and route-running chops to cut it in the NFL.

But Mims is a confirmed athlete. A Class 3A 200-meter champion in high school (21.30 seconds), Mims' long speed is evident on his film, as he controls downfield routes by adjusting his pace and attack passes at top speed, while keeping defenders on his back. With the ball in his hands, Mims has the speed to break safety's angles and turn underneath passes into explosive gains.

Mims doesn't necessarily have the elite pickup of smaller receivers with shorter stride lengths, but he has enough explosiveness to win off the line of scrimmage and attack corner's shoulders to work downfield. Consider this example against Oklahoma, where Mims manipulates his release timing and footwork to generate a downfield angle, then has the burst and long speed to secure downfield leverage and go for a touchdown.

As a releaser and route-runner, Mims has these nice flashes, but is generally inconsistent. In that he's started for Baylor for three years now, that is a bit concerning — but it is clear that the requisite athletic ability is present, and that his greatest skills don't really require top-flight route-running to be maximized. So it's understandable that he's underdeveloped.

Mims will give you quality reps as a non-primary target in Year 1, but a good WR coach should get you a primary target by Year 2 at the latest. A team like Washington or Philadelphia, who already have a WR1 but are looking to add depth, should go hunting for Mims on Day 2.

Defense: Oklahoma iDL Neville Gallimore

I was so pleasantly surprised with Neville Gallimore's film, I knew I had to write about him for a Sunday Senior Showcase. It's a stacked iDL class, and Gallimore didn't get a Round 1 grade from me — so, as of right now, he's not sneaking into the first round of my most recent mock draft or the top 20 of my most recent big board. But this is a player who has drastically improved his game in his senior year, will likely have a big win at the Combine given the athletic transformation he's experienced since last offseason, and will be dominant in Senior Bowl 1-on-1s.

So if you're looking for a just found one.

Gallimore's most impressive ability is how well he navigates the tight spaces of the A-gap into quick pressures and line of scrimmage control. Playing 0-technique is tough in the three-man rushes of Oklahoma's base defense: you frequently get double- or even triple-teamed. But as new DC Alex Grinch has introduced a slanting front that allows Gallimore to penetrate and play one-gap, Gallimore's potential has been unlocked. Gallimore is leaner, quicker, and smarter in 2019, and it's showing. From my final report, Gallimore's best traits:

Lateral Agility: Stupid quick player. Has nice hip mobility to work through tough angles and fight pressure with pressure into space. Ability to plant a foot and change direction at his size is really something to see, either on pass rush counters or when tracking ball carriers in space. Has a great knack for getting skinny and slippery in tight space, which maximizes his ability to slant and twist from the interior
Pass Rush Technique: Huge strides from 2018 illustrate high ceiling. Hands are active and impactful, with much better locations. Regularly breaks his opponent's initial punch and has a second move to soften his rush angle and generate a lane into the backfield. Relies on his arm-over a little too heavily and can become predictable, but has shown a bull-snatch, push-pull, swim move, inside spin, and a club/hump move as well. Does good work on the bull rush to consistently challenge pocket integrity, though he'll never be an elite bull rusher at the next level.

With a smaller and more compact build, Gallimore's not a lockout player who can two-gap with consistency — that's a hallmark of the odd fronts Gallimore has played in during his time in the Big 12. Gallimore actually has solid length for a shorter player, but his length is better used when he's striking and disengaging with clubs, rips, and arm-overs to generate rush angles.

But what's most exciting about that trait is how quickly it manifests itself: Gallimore is a wildly instinctive player who feels his pressure keys and anticipates offensive linemen closing naturally. He's often already ripping through a gap and presenting in the backfield by the time the quarterback gets to the top of his drop. That's the best sort of pressure an interior rusher can get: immediate, pocket-breaking. Tough to execute a passing game when the quarterback is always off his spot.

Gallimore has such a great opportunity at the Senior Bowl: a week of lining up at 3-technique, going head up on one opposing guard, with a two-way go. So frequently consumed by the trash of play action, of zone flow, of slanting responsibilities against the run, Gallimore has few one-on-one pass rush reps on his senior year film. Those that he has are typically dominant. If he's as successful at the Senior Bowl, his stock will go sky-high for me and for others who were watching his Oklahoma film, wishing they'd just let him line up in a gap and fire off the line.

The significant senior jump Gallimore has enjoyed is no reason for pause. It's clear how to get the most out of this player, given how Grinch system and Gallimore's own growth coincided for such a spectacular season. Teams who value length and strength and stopping power at the defensive tackle position should not draft Gallimore at the premium that one-gapping, penetration-oriented defenses will — and that premium may well put Gallimore in the first round, when it's all said and done.