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Should the Bears Pursue Denzel Mims?

With the former second-round pick recently requesting a trade out of New York, Mims makes for an interesting trade option

New York Jets v New York Giants Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images

It’s no secret that the Chicago Bears are in need of some wide receiving help. Outside of Darnell Mooney, the corps is mostly filled with inexperienced young players or guys who never had a major role on their past team. With that in mind, an interesting name recently popped up on the trade market and could be an intriguing piece for Ryan Poles and co. to pursue.

A few days ago, Denzel Mims, a 24-year-old receiver with the Jets, made a trade request. The former second-rounder has only been with the Jets for two seasons and has struggled to really find his groove on the team. His major stats from the past two years are:

  • 2020: 9 games, 23rec., 357yds., 0tds
  • 2021: 11 games, 8rec., 133yds., 0tds

In 2020, his rookie year, Mims was targeted 44 times across nine games. He finished fifth on the team in the targets category but finished with a less-than-stellar 52.3% catch rate. His yards-per-reception was solid though, at a clip of 15.5 yards/rec.

However, Mims saw his usage take a nosedive last season. His targets fell all the way to 23, which was 10th on the team. The catch rate also tanked, dropping to 34.8%. On the other hand, one of the major stat categories that did improve was his yards/reception, which jumped up to 16.6. But getting his touches back up won’t be easy with all the talent the Jets have added since Mims arrived; names like WRs Elijah Moore, Corey Davis, and Garrett Wilson, as well as Tyler Conklin and C.J. Uzomah at TE.

Safe to say, a change of scenery might be in Mims’ best interest. The question is, is he worth a look at from the Bears? A couple of things say yes. First, the guy produced in college, so all that draft hype was for a reason. Earning major playing time his sophomore through senior year, his stats are as follows:

  • 2017 (So.): 12 games, 61rec., 1087yds., 8tds
  • 2018 (Jr.): 12 games, 55rec., 794yds., 8tds
  • 2019 (Sr.): 13 games, 66rec., 1020yds., 12tds

Of course, good looking college stats don’t always translate to NFL success. So how does Mims actually look as a player?

His natural gifts are probably his biggest strength. Mims stands at 6’3 with a massive 78.5” wingspan. This length gives Mims a huge catch radius, which allows him to snag any passes that he honestly shouldn’t be able to (i.e., passes behind him or above the rim). He also has long strides and decent speed (4.38 40-yard dash), which, theoretically, should allow him to create separation from his defender, but that isn’t always the case.

This leads to the negatives surrounding Mims’ game. He doesn’t always look like he’s giving it 100% out there. The moves to create space are definitely there (his draft bio on specifically lists his jab-step and speed change-ups), but they are not always evident, or his stats might look a little better. In addition, physicality isn’t a specialty of Mims even though he’s 6’3, 207lbs. Opposing secondaries have no issue pushing Mims around, so contested catches where Mims isn’t able to use his reach to escape pressure and that just rely on outworking whoever’s defending him usually don’t come out in Mims’ favor. Even after catching the ball, Mims isn’t great at surviving initial contact, only tallying 6.1 yards after catch-per-reception. You also have a factor in his poor catch rate, another issue in his draft bio.

But those natural gifts might be too good to pass up. If Mims is put into a system that knows how to use him, as well as mold his skills that need developing, he could turn into a solid receiver. Not a WR1 or anything unless he drastically improves upon his weaknesses, but a productive guy you’d still like to have on your roster.

It does sound like there’s a good chance Mims doesn’t go anywhere though, as Jets’ head coach Robert Saleh recently said that he believes Mims will remain in New York this season. But if Mims is indeed on the trading block, it’s unlikely he’ll cost much due to his lack of production thus far in his career, kinda similar to how N’Keal Harry was brought to Chicago for the low price of a seventh-round pick (Mims will likely cost a little more since he is younger and probably has more unlocked potential at this point in his career). Or maybe Mims’ll be cut, and the Bears can just wait to pick him up on the waiver wire, but that seems unlikely since the Jets can definitely get something for him. Granted, Mims likely won’t help out the Bears’ receiving corps right away, but he still makes for an interesting prospective pick-up and one that might prove beneficial in the future.