Denzel Mims will command your attention at the NFL Combine

NFL Draft

The wide receiver class of 2020 is thought to be historically loaded. Denzel Mims of Baylor is one of those stars, and worth your attention.

Who the hell is that?

This was a thought crossing many minds at the Senior Bowl a few weeks ago, watching No. 15 clad in black torching one corner after another in individual drills. Between the size, route-running and fluidity off the line, this guy was someone worth digging deeper into.

Turns out it was Denzel Mims.

Mims, 22, starred at Baylor for three seasons, twice eclipsing 1,000 receiving yards. In 2019, he earned First-Team All-Big 12 honors with 66 receptions, 1,020 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Now, Mims is part of the best receiver class this century. ESPN’s longtime draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. believes 25 receivers could be taken in the first three rounds, a staggering number for any position.

While the competition for eyeballs is fierce for Mims, the belief in his own work is evident.

“It’s a big receiver class, but I think I can stand out more than anybody else,” Mims said. “There’s not a receiver more physical than me who loves to block. I show it on tape. I love to block.”

Of course, Mims’ frame and mindset are built for the dirty work.

Checking in at 6-foot-3 and 207 pounds, the youngest of three brothers are used to getting after it. While Mims considered the University of Oklahoma out of high school, he decided on Baylor to stay near his grandmother, Glinda, who raised him alongside his mother, Peggy.

During his time in Waco, Mims helped resurrect a program only starting to emerge from the Art Briles fiasco. The youngster got to work with head coach Matt Rhule, an offensive genius who took the head-coaching job with the NFL’s Carolina Panthers in January.

Under Rhule, Mims’ game improved dramatically throughout his three years with the Bears.

“I improved the most with contested catches, just winning the 50-50 balls,” Mims said. “I didn’t make that many catches on 50-50 balls as a sophomore (compared to) my senior year. I kept working at it and got a whole lot better.”

Watching his games from last year, it’s easy to see Mims’ appeal to NFL front offices. The former Biletnikoff Watch member has a large catch radius with terrific hands and a long stride. Mims also showed the ability to stack corners off the line with subtle moves to beat tight man coverage.

Much like his showcase at Mobile.

“I felt I showed a lot (at the Senior Bowl),” Mims said. “I showed I’m competitive and showed I can run any route you want me to run. If you give me a shot I’ll be a great receiver for you.”

Less than two months after Mims finished his Baylor career with a loss to Georgia in the Sugar Bowl, the lanky star has moved on from Mobile. It’s now about readying for the NFL Scouting Combine.

In preparation, Mims is working with trainer Brent Calloway at EXOS in Frisco, Texas, training alongside first-round hopefuls Jeffrey Okudah, Jeff Gladney, Damon Arnette, Jalen Reagor and others.

Mims arrived in Indianapolis for the combine on Sunday, his first trip to the city. His main focus this week? Showcase his speed. Considering his size, anything in the 4.5 range or better would be a victory.

For teams, though, the on-field assessment ranks third in importance at Indianapolis. The medical evaluation and interviews are first and second, and Mims believes the latter will be an opportunity for him to separate from the pack.

“I’m a good guy to have around your team,” Mims said. “I can relate to people. I try to be a great teammate.”

Getting noticed at the Senior Bowl was step one. The combine is the next, more-highly publicized milestone followed by his Baylor Pro Day on March 25.

It’s time for Mims to once more answer this question for every viewer: Who the hell was that?

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