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Denzel Mims' rise up draft boards is for real

It’s easy to scoff at the use of “riser” and “faller” to describe NFL draft prospects weeks after Combine testing and months after we've seen them actually don shoulder pads for their respective universities. Often, the “movement” is just the media catching up to where some inside the NFL have always valued players. There are certain cases, though, where prospects legitimately do quell on-field concerns in the pre-draft process. That’s been true of Baylor wide receiver Denzel Mims, and it’s why I believe he’s darn near a lock to be selected in the first round.

[Editor's note: Check out PFF's 2020 Post-Free Agency Mock Draft and NFL Draft Big Board. PFF Elite subscribers can also download the 1,100-page 2020 NFL Draft Guide.]

To understand why Mims has risen recently, you have to understand what the concerns were from his tape at Baylor in the first place. Matt Rhule used Mims' skillset in a very static manner the past couple seasons. As a junior in 2018, Mims took all 658 snaps as an outside receiver in Baylor’s offense. They decided to get a tad more creative with Mims in 2019 and still had him play 671 of his 723 snaps from a wide split. There weren’t many free or schemed yards for Mims last season — he had to do the work to get open for all 1,015 of them.

Baylor lined Mims up out wide and then had him run vertical damn near play after play. Mims had an average depth of target 14.9 yards downfield. Only Tee Higgins (15.7) had a deeper aDOT among Power-5 receivers in the draft class. 

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