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Denzel Mims: Maybe the Raiders Should Be Receptive to Trading for Him? Maybe?

The (somewhat) surprising trade of Braylon Edwards got me to thinking about which other teams are holding players they’d seemingly would like to cut bait with. It took only a few seconds to come up with the Jets and Denzel Mims.

I see Denzel Mims as a potential trade opportunity that would benefit Carr and the Raiders.

Drafted in the second round in 2020 by GM Joe Douglas, Mims was viewed by several sites as a steal. Today, Mims has the feel of persona non grata in New York with Saleh running the show.

Mims joined a Jets team in desperate need of offensive firepower, but his inaugural season proved underwhelming. He fought nagging injuries in training camp and pre-season, leaving the club with little real information on the player before them… aside from his collegiate career, which was also somewhat marred by nagging injuries that took from his play and development.

When Mims finally suited up for the 2020 season, it was week seven of the NFL. He made four catches for forty-two yards against seven opportunities. Over his next four weeks, he hauled in another thirteen catches for two hundred and forty yards. Blistering? No. Promising? Yes. Mims looked ready to carve out his time as a WR in the NFL on a team dying for anyone to play catch-maker.

But his final weeks were a large tail off in playing time and accomplishments, and he ended 2020 with 23 receptions for 357 yards, an average of 15.5 yards per catch. Again, not what Jets fans were hoping for but results in rookie seasons vary for many and do not always predict final outcomes. Additionally, some slack could be extended to him as San Darnold was his QB for most of the season. He was also trying to learn multiple WRs spots when he barely had a hold on one spot in college. Toss in a weak offensive line and Mims’s mixed season could almost be entirely overlooked.

2021 would be better for Mims. Definitely.

Instead, Mims got a new coach in Robert Saleh whom he quickly ran aground of. Mims received a lot of your typical coach praise early on but failed to break the lineup most weeks even when there was a high need for anyone on that team who could suit up and play WR. Within Mike LaFleur’s WCO, Mims just made too many mental mistakes (penalties/drops/missed assignments) and he battled food sickness and COVID for a several weeks to boot. Bad luck, bad karma, whatever you’d like to tab it it was just bad for Mims and the Jets. By week 13, Mims was in the old toy bin, collecting dust.

Come 2022, the Jets showed how much faith they have in him by drafting Garrett Wilson, leaving Mins as essentially the 4th/5th best receiving option in New York and persona non grata, which is why we should make an offer for him. One I’ll presume would be dastardly low given how cheap it seems players who are basically close to being cut or out of favor can be had. Something is better than nothing.

Why Mims? Well, I wish it were spot on easy to explain.

PFF had him rated as the 8th best WR prior to the draft. They loved his size and his many athletic talents noting his ability to jump, toe-tap along the line, fight for contested passes, and his "ridiculous" 3-cone times. On the negative side, and something that followed him into the NFL, he held a limited understanding of the WR route tree (more Baylor’s fault than his) and had committed too many drops, 24 out of 210 catchable balls. Um, yeah.. a good portion of those are likely on him. He managed to shrug off those concerns with his Senior Bowl performances coming out as PFFs number one player based on that weekend. (His one-on-one drills are worth watching.) PFF concluded Mims could be another Braylen Edwards, a player with a ton of ability who dropped too many to stick long term but would likely be a Round 1 pick and was worth placing a big bet on. The Edwards comp is a little rough for me as Edwards had a litany of other issues and behaviors that hampered his ability to be the Pro Bowler he was in 2007, but I get the notion to it.

FYI: To be fair, this is a good article about how Mims may not be as good at contested catches as is often remarked. (See? This is why Mims is maddening. He appears to have it all, as I’ll detail further, but maybe his head space won’t allow him to bring it all together. Still…)

Mims fits in LV because he’s got the look of another player Carr loved to connect with, Michael Crabtree. Mims, at 6’ 3", 207 pounds), has got size comparable to Crabtree’s (6’1", 212 pounds). Mims also possesses a near identical wingspan (34 to Crab’s 34.25), which puts his catch radius in the upper percentiles at 93. Mims benched 16 reps at the combine, highlighting his strength. He’s got strong hands and can take hits and hold onto the ball, something Jerry Jeudy cannot. Like Crabtree, he’s got good physical dexterity, can high-point, and adjust to various throws.

Physically, there’s almost nothing to dislike about him. If you watch enough of his game performances you see there are plays where he looks beastly, has that -effu-this-ball-is-mine behavior. He gets off jams well and he -far more often than not- owns the boundaries. He stays inside on his route, away from the boundary, and fades late to make catches.

Not enough? How about that Mims’s measurables from the combine have him lined up with Julio Jones?

Yeah, yeah, okay we’re a loooonnnnng way from JJ time with this guy, but you get my drift. He’s physically all there. It is the mental question for him. or possibly he's just suffered some bad luck with sickness.

So, how does MIms fit in when we just dumped Edwards?

Unlike Edwards, whom we seem to have shipped away because he lacked separation speed and (as is too common) wasn’t drafted by the present regime, Mims has enough NFL speed, moves, and hand-fighting skills to more than get the job done.

The Jets are sticking to their complex version of the WCO, which might be outside of Mims wheelhouse, if I may mix sports metaphors. He’s a better go-route guy, which is what we seem to be looking for with the additions of K Cole, Mack Hollins, and Demarcus Robinson. The difference is that if Mims’s light bulb can go on and stay on, he can be more threatening and dynamic than any of those three. (Obviously, this would mean one of them would have to move on.) As noted, I believe the Raiders roll out on offense in 2022 using the Erhardt-Perkins system, which will make Mims’s ability to learn the playbook far easier than LaFleur’s WCO.

Most recent news has Mims doing the right things to put his potential career back on track. He’s dropped down to 7 percent body fat, replacing some fat with muscle. He’s also working out in AZ with his QB, Z. Wilson. So, it appears he's not sitting back on whatever money he has and working from the belief that many top-drafted rookies do, which is that they were drafted high so their career is safe. (Sure, some teams will keep giving you chances, but not nearly for the same pay.) At least Mims seems to grasp this.

Not to drift too far into streeeeetch-land but, in his earliest seasons, Davante Adams wasn’t the player he’s been the last few seasons. There were more than few who wondered if he was a bust or at least an overreach. And this even when he played with one of the best QBs and teams in the league. He should have come outta the gate killing it. He didn’t. No one questions D Adams now.

No, I’m not saying Mims is on the D Adams path, but the point is that even some of the great players need time to be great at the NFL level. Some guys take time to get it together.

Of course, I’ll knock my own argument and note that Laquon Treadwell was projected to be solid and has languished for years with the underachiever label. He’s only showed any life at all this past season, his sixth. Even then, he’s not performing anywhere near projections and expectations.

The time to move on Mims is right now; before he can show himself to be the coveted sleeper WR he was for many in 2019. Mims is making noise this off-season, or at least his agent is, with his effort to improve. Would a 7th rounder land him? Would it take a 5th? I’d be good in that range for a stab at this guy.

Go Raiders.