Denzel Mims is the first to admit that he asks questions. A lot of questions.
"I have my two guys in the room -- Breshad [Perriman] and [Jamison] Crowder -- I look up to them and try to soak up everything they tell me," Mims, a rookie wide receiver out of Baylor University, said on Thursday. "I want to be one of the best in the game, I'm just learning from them. I ask a lot of questions all the time. If I'm not sure I'm going to ask a question."
Before his NFL debut, two games ago against Buffalo, Jets fans had a lot of questions about Mims, mostly focused on when the Jets' second-round draft pick would finally see the field. Throughout training camp, Mims (6-3, 207) was dogged by a hamstring injury and then he sustained a hamstring injury to his other leg upon return to practice that forced him to miss the first six regular season games. In the two games he's played in, Mims has led the team in receiving yards and has made 6 catches for 84 yards (14.0 avg). His height, speed and soft hands have prompted some observers to compare Mims to players like Braylon Edwards and Brandon Marshall.
Earlier this week, Jets' GM Joe Douglas, speaking about his first draft class, said he was impressed with OT Mekhi Becton, Mims, RB La'Michal Perine and S Ashytn Davis. He noted that Mims and DL Jabari Zuniga were just coming off injured reserve (Becton, Davis and Perine, too, have spent time out injured).
"I think the last few weeks you've seen some positive things from him, especially for a guy who's really had two weeks of practices prior to playing in two games," Douglas said about Mims. "I mean really, this is almost like the end of training camp for him in terms of the amount of actual professional football reps that he's had. We're really excited about seeing his progression these last eight games and what he brings in terms of his catch radius, ball skills and route running.
"To build the team and the culture that we need and we want, the focus of this organization is going to remain on player development. Ultimately for us to get to where we need to be, we have to continue to develop and invest in our players moving forward."
Mims grew up in the small Texas town of Daingerfield (pop. approx. 2,400) and his first trip to a big city up north left him a bit rattled and overwhelmed. He was speaking a few months before the 2020 NFL Draft about a trip to Philadelphia with coaches and teammates from Baylor. Mims admitted to being "scared" and said that he saw "a lot of people that look scary."
Though we have no information on Mims' itinerary in the New Jersey/New York area, he has begun to accrue valuable experience, not in the concrete jungles, but on the turf of the NFL.
Asked how he's been handling the mental aspect of the professional game, Mims said: "It's been tough, but it's been good. I have a lot to learn."
In those two games, Mims and the Jets have turned in strong play in the first half, but faltered in the second half of losses to Buffalo and at Kansas City.
"You'll have to talk to the coaches about that," he said, showing off impressive skills in diplomacy -- for a rookie. "I just do what I'm asked, Whatever they need me to do ... clear out a guy, block a guy. I don't care, I just want to win."
In high school, Mims was a four-sport star playing football (of course), baseball (until an arm injury sidelined him), basketball (a two-time all district selection) and track (100- and 200-meter sprints).
Most important for the rookie has been providing hints of what's to come.
"I came out and did what I could for the team, showed a little glimpse of what I can do," Mims said. "I want to do more, do more of everything I can to help us get a win. Whatever they ask me to do I will do it 110%."