Sometimes it's a scheme thing that derails things. Or injuries. Or a coaching change. Or some combination of all three, with other stuff mixed in. Denzel Mims' experience over three seasons with the New York Jets can be summed up as disappointing.
An injury delayed his debut in 2020, to say nothing of a virtually non-existent COVID-19 offseason to set him back to whatever degree it would have anyway. The Jets made a coaching change heading into his second year, and a bout of food poisoning set him back with the new staff led by Robert Saleh. An unfulfilled trade demand came about a year ago, and Mims only saw offensive snaps last season when another receiver who did not connect with the coaching staff (Elijah Moore) was benched.
All of the above is not to absolve Mims from blame. He was plagued by drops when he did take the field for the Jets, and his craft as a route runner left something to be desired. But sometimes a change of scenery is needed.
The Jets' offseason remodeling of their receiving corps to accomodate Aaron Rodgers pushed Mims right off the roster whenever the time was right--not that he would have made it anyway. So they moved toward waiving him or trading him as they opened up training camp. Then the Lions acquired him, and a 2025 seventh-round pick, for a conditional 2025 sixth-round pick.
The condition on the pick swap, easy to assume and later confirmed by NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, is Mims making the Lions' 53-man roster.
Lions obviously hoping a fresh start unlocks potential of Denzel Mims
So Mims, for all his tools (6-foot-3, 207 pounds, sub-4.4 speed) and unfulfilled potential thus far, is a no-risk lottery ticket for the Lions. The aforementioned combination of tools makes him unique in the Detroit receiving corps, and as he looks to get his career on track the Lions have an opportunity to put in front of him.
As training camp opened on Sunday, via Justin Rogers of The Detroit News, Mims was of course a topic head coach Dan Campbell was asked about.
"He’s a guy that has tools," "He’s a big receiver and he has speed. He has length and kind of relative of looking at what do you want to work with. This guy has the ability and let’s see if we can do something. Let’s see if a change in scenery helps this guy. It’s the traits. We know the kid will work. We’ve heard that. He has a level of toughness about him, so we’ll see where we can take it.""- Dan Campbell
New teammates Jared Goff and Amon-Ra St. Brown both expressed excitement about working with Mims on Sunday, as is natural for them to say.
Mims was, not surprisingly, eased in on the first day of training camp on Sunday. He apparently, and as expected, did a lot of work with wide receivers coach Antwaan Randle El after practice. Multiple reporters have said he (Mims) will talk to the media on Monday, as he continues to get up to speed.
It was also revealed on Sunday that Mims will wear No. 17 for the Lions, for however long he's around.