It can be unfair how quickly the NFL spotlight shifts, but this is the same league that sees starting running backs discarded for younger prospects at the first sign of trouble.
Joe Douglas has cast a wide net at the receiver position for rookie Zach Wilson, signing former first-round pick Corey Davis along with role player Keelan Cole and early second-round draft pick Elijah Moore.
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Don’t forget that slot-threat Jamison Crowder is back for now, so long as the Jets don’t elect to trade him at a later point in the offseason.
That’s a pretty deep top five, which doesn’t even include players like Braxton Berrios and Jeff or Vyncint Smith.
Mims will have a role in this offense, that much is clear, but I’m not so sure he’ll have the breakout season that many pegged for him a couple of months ago. That was before Crowder elected to stay with the team, Cole developed chemistry with Wilson in OTAs, and Moore proved to be an every-down wide receiver instead of a backup in the slot.
A lot has changed, and most of it has happened while Mims has either sat out or underperformed.
Spots Must Be Earned With Robert Saleh
One thing has been very clear under head coach Robert Saleh, depth chart spots will be earned, not given.
Mims is slipping in part because of nagging injuries, but his overall contribution has been pretty underwhelming even when he’s been on the field. The second-year pro has been outplayed by Moore, Cole and Berrios at every turn in spring.
Even when Davis returned from his injury, he outshined Mims on his first play.
I’m rooting for Mims as much as anybody, I want to make that clear. It is imperative that he start proving himself on the field during the preseason games though. If he doesn’t, he might become an afterthought in this 2021 offense.
Douglas Wasn’t as High on Mims
Sometimes you have to read between the lines with general managers because they rarely just come out and tell you the sensitive information.
The harsh truth here is that Douglas passed on Mims in the 2020 draft. Sure, some may say the GM was so wise and brilliant that he knew no one else would have taken the wide-out when he traded down. I might have even said that in the past, I’m admittedly a big Douglas supporter.
If we’re being honest, he wouldn’t have done that if he was in love with Mims as a prospect. We know this because we saw the GM’s reaction when Moore dropped into the second round during the Flight 2021 documentary.
Douglas was in love with Moore as a prospect. He did not trade down with him on the board. In fact, he didn’t even seem to consider it.
Similarly, we’ve heard rumors from Jets beat reporters that Douglas attempted to acquire Cole from the Jacksonville Jaguars via trade, so he likes him too.
Again, the general manager doesn’t decide who plays, he just casts the wide net of talent to work with. Who gets the most snaps will be up to Saleh and offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur, but I’m merely pointing out that Mims shouldn’t be considered untouchable based on his draft status.
These are all Douglas guys.
Time for Mims to Step Up
I’d like nothing more than for Mims to prove all the doubters wrong, including myself.
Let’s start with that catch rate, which was down at 52.3% in 2020. The Baylor product was known for his athleticism and vertical ability in college but his hands must improve at the pro-level for him to be successful.
He also has to stay healthy. Mims only played nine games out of 16 in 2020 and he’s already missed some time in camp.
Finally, he has to be productive when he does get his opportunities. As an eight-game starter last year Mims was largely nonexistent. He averaged 39.7 yards per game (8.1 per target) with zero touchdowns.
One positive stat for the wide receiver to build off was his first down receptions. Mims moved the chains 15 times on just 23 catches.
Another positive is Mims’ attitude. During a quick interview with Jets team reporter Eric Allen, the wide-out called all the new acquisitions at his position “great picks.” He also told Allen that he “learned a lot of things from [Davis, Moore and Cole].”
Mims even mentioned that Davis has been “mentoring” and “guiding” him. As for taking on a leadership role himself, the former Baylor Bear’s advice for Moore was to “keep doing what he’s doing and stay focused.”