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Top Receivers in NFL Draft: Denzel Mims

Baylor’s Denzel Mims checks in at No. 5 in our ranking of the top receivers in the NFL Draft.
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Baylor’s Denzel Mims checks in at No. 5 in our ranking of the top receivers in the NFL Draft.

If Denzel Mims had been allowed to follow his impulses, he might not be in position to be a first-round draft pick.

As a true freshman at Baylor in 2016, Mims caught just four passes. So, heading into spring practice in 2017, he went to the new coach, Matt Rhule, and inquired about a move to defense. While he was an all-state receiver at Daingerfield (Texas) High School, he was an all-district safety.

“My freshman year, I didn’t really get any playing time,” Mims recalled. “I burnt my redshirt and I didn’t really get any playing time. So, I wanted to try to make a move to go to corner because I thought I could play corner. And Coach Rhule saw me play receiver in spring ball and he was like, ‘No, you’re going to stay at receiver.’ It turned out good.”

Good is one way to put it. Mims caught 61 passes for 1,087 yards and eight touchdowns as a sophomore, 55 passes for 794 yards and eight touchdowns as a junior and 66 passes for 1,020 yards and 12 touchdowns as a senior. His four-year totals were 186 catches, 2,925 yards (15.7 average) and 28 scores.

Mims had an excellent career but made a lot of money at the Senior Bowl. During one-on-ones, Mims caught 14-of-16 passes, according to Pro Football Focus. Mims had the most catches, most touchdowns and highest win rate among the receivers. He continued the momentum at the Scouting Combine. At 6-foot-2 7/8, he ran his 40 in 4.43 seconds and posted a three-cone time of 6.66 seconds. Both of those are elite for a man of his size.

A couple things stand out from Mims’ season. First, he was tied for second in the nation with 20 contested catches. Second, he caught only one screen, meaning his stats weren’t beefed up by a bunch of filler.

“Actually worked a lot in practice on that with my coach, Frisman Jackson,” Mims said of his highlight-reel catches. “We did a lot of drills that had me get pushed around and had me still got to catch the ball. We stayed late after practice and I got to catch 100 contested balls. And if I don’t catch them, I’m going to be there all night. If I drop one, we start over. We just work on it every single day. And it turns out I’m good at it.”

What we like:

Not only is Mims tall but he’s long, with his 33 7/8-inch arms ranking fourth among the receivers at the Scouting Combine. That means he’s got quite a catch radius. Mims’ blocking also stands out. He’s one of the best blockers in this year’s receiver class. Nice runs become long runs when the receivers aren’t afraid to do the dirty work. “I’d say my blocking stands out on film. I take pride in it. I love to block. I’m not a selfish guy,” he said. “I know if you dominate in the blocking game, it opens up the passing game. So, if I block my corner real hard and he gets tired of me blocking him, then it will open up the passing game for me.”

What we don’t like

For all of his physical skills and spectacular catches, Mims dropped too many passes. According to Sports Info Solutions, he had 24 drops over his final three seasons. On the bright side, he cut the drop count from 11 as a junior to five as a senior. He averaged only 3.0 yards after the catch as a senior. 

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BILL'S RECEIVER PREVIEW

No. 1: Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy

No. 2: Alabama’s Henry Ruggs

No. 3: Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb

No. 4: LSU’s Justin Jefferson

No. 5: Baylor’s Denzel Mims

No. 6: Clemson’s Tee Higgins

No. 7: Arizona State’s Brandon Aiyuk

No. 8: Colorado’s Laviska Shenault

No. 9: USC’s Michael Pittman

No. 10: Texas’ Devin Duvernay

No. 11: Notre Dame’s Chase Claypool

No. 12: TCU’s Jalen Reagor

SI.com: The New Receiver U.