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Denzel Mims continues to climb draft boards, but he's more than just a workout riser

Possibly the biggest riser in the unprecedented 2020 wide receiver class, Denzel Mims has ascended with his performance at the Senior Bowl and, most recently, his testing at the combine. Mims rose 34 places on PFF’s Top 100 Big Board after the Senior Bowl. He presents an interesting dilemma for teams, though, as his 2019 receiving grade of 85.6 ranks just 40th among qualifying wide receivers. 

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Questions remain about his college tape, where he had good but not groundbreaking production facing off against some of the worst defenses in the FBS. His draft stock will surely rise, but will NFL production follow as a result? Using Kevin Cole’s methodology on evaluating winners and losers from the combine through the lens of analytics shows that Mims has the second largest negative differential between his projected draft score and WAR score among this wide receiver class. With Mims' odd usage at Baylor, should we add more weight to his draft season measurables? 

Route Running

The initial knock on Denzel Mims coming out of college has been the lack of a diverse route tree. At Baylor, Mims lived on the outside, running 409 of his 430 pass routes from that position. Just shy of 28% of his targets came on go/fade routes that were 10 or more yards downfield and outside the numbers. Mims was targeted consistently on only four other route types, making his route tree one of the most limited we have seen from a first-round wide receiver prospect. 

Obviously, his limited route tape could cause pause among teams, but his ability to excel at the Senior Bowl suggests that it could be more a schematic issue than general route-running ability. This also plays into a narrative that Mims' numbers aren’t inflated by gimmick or gadgety plays, as he had only one target on routes that would be considered “nontraditional” from a wide receiver perspective. 

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