What does Jets second-year wide receiver Denzel Mims have in common with NBA superstar Kevin Durant? Just ask New York's new offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur.
"It looks like he has a wingspan like Kevin Durant. He's got tons of range as long as that ball is anywhere around him," LaFleur said Thursday. "If the ball is anywhere in the vicinity, you expect them to get it."
Similar to what Durant has become in basketball and for the Brooklyn Nets, Mims is aspiring to be an elite scoring threat, stretching out defenses with his versatility, able to strike from deep at any time.
Even if LaFleur has only had a few weeks to work with Mims in person this offseason, you can take his word for it. The coach scouted Mims when he was with the San Francisco 49ers leading up to the 2020 NFL draft.
"We watched him when he came out a year ago," LaFleur said. "We took Brandon Aiyuk in the first round so we were kind of done with receivers at that point. And then obviously [Mims] coming here in the second round. To be able to really study him, you knew he was big, but then when you get to him in person, he's actually a little bit bigger than even I thought. On top of that, he's looser."
Jets fans have only gotten a taste of what the 23-year-old is capable of at this level. During his rookie season, the Baylor product appeared in only nine games, missing time throughout the year due to injury.
When he was out there, however, he made an impact. Mims hauled in 357 receiving yards in those eight games, racking up 15.5 yards per catch.
LaFleur spoke about the challenges of adjusting to the NFL from the college level as a wide receiver. The types of coverages these receivers see right away are far more advanced and it takes time to adapt, even for the best young wideouts in the game.
With a chance to participate in OTAs, training camp and develop alongside a new coaching staff and rookie quarterback, Mims has a real shot to blossom in his second season, starting later this fall.
"I'm excited to work with him," LaFleur said. "He's eager, he's a really cool dude to work with. But he's just gonna have to get out there. And again, it's just going to be reps and just going and understanding the speed of the game."
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