If you follow the NFL closely or even remotely, you’re probably aware of some of the top incoming rookie wide receivers — guys who might become household names by the end of the year. The eighth WR taken this year, Marvin Mims, might be the most intriguing of them all. Mims’ impact on the Denver Broncos in 2023 (and even 2024 and 2025) might hinge on how he fares this summer, beginning in rookie minicamp.
Marvin Mims and the Broncos’ WR Depth Chart
Denver had only five draft picks this year, in part due to last season’s acquisition of Russell Wilson. Of course, Wilson was supposed to be the missing piece for this franchise — the key addition for a Super Bowl run.
But it didn’t work out that way. Not even close. A season-ending injury to No. 3 WR Tim Patrick in early August didn’t help. In 2021, the team handed Patrick $18.5 million guaranteed on a three-year extension. That’s not normal for a supposed No. 3 WR, especially for a guy about to turn 28 years old (i.e. there was a good chance he’d already peaked at that point).
And yet, Patrick wasn’t a normal No. 3 WR. He was capable of serving as the No. 1 when needed. And even alongside Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy, he had a consistent and impactful role.
Heading into this offseason, Denver’s wideout corps looked set. And right after the draft, they even picked up Jeudy’s fifth-year option for 2024.
So the team traded up to get Mims. And GM George Paton explained why: “The way he tracks the ball in the hands, the toughness in the run game for a guy who’s not that big. His transition after the catch on those screens. We just feel for his size, he’s really tough.”
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Where does Mims fit into this offense? That’s why his performance in rookie minicamp is so important, as is his preseason in general. Because Denver might not want to carry four wideouts into this season, especially when they have a potentially huge hole to fill in the backfield.
What?! Isn’t the backfield fine with Javonte Williams and Samaje Perine?
Well, Williams isn’t a lock to return early this season, and depending on how the year goes, the Broncos might play it exceedingly safe with their young starter. And Perine likely fits better as a complementary back, not as a bell cow.
So back to Mims. With only five picks in the draft, Denver used its first one on him — again, at a position where they already seemed to be locked in. Why?
For starters, Mims is a talented and versatile receiver. And his versatility might be the key. Jeudy has missed nine games in the last two years. Sutton missed two last year and 15 contests in 2020. And we already know about Patrick.
Over a long season, Mims gives this team the depth they need in a seemingly injury-prone receiving corps. Or, Mims could make someone like Jeudy expendable.
What if Mims Breaks Out?
If Mims looks like he needs to be in the starting lineup, then it could hasten Denver’s decision on what to do with their remaining receivers. Sutton is under contract for three more years, while the aging Patrick is on the hook for two more. The Broncos could cut bait with one of them after this season, with only some dead-cap pain.
Jeudy is the wild card — a guy they’ve considered trading this offseason, even if, at times, it appeared unlikely. Mims fits best at his spot in the slot. A former No. 15 overall draft pick, Jeudy still possesses value, even if his potential hasn’t come close to being realized. He only just turned 24 years old.
So if Mims looks so good in camp that the Broncos have to make room for him, we might see them shop Jeudy or one of their other receivers. In exchange, they could land a player who could fill a major gap. I offered running back as an example, and I’m sticking to it. But others might see opportunities to fill a different gap.
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For example, imagine a trade involving Derrick Henry, Jeudy, and draft picks. Henry will turn 30 in January. The Titans probably aren’t making the playoffs this year, and Henry’s value has nowhere to go but down at this stage of his career. If the Titans want to plan for another run in 2024 or 2025, a tandem of Treylon Burks and Jeudy might be a better long-term play, especially given Burks’ ability to play in the slot or on the outside.
And for Denver, Henry would give them instant “win-now” credibility, as they go all-in for a title.
This and similar scenarios work only if Mims lights up camp — if the team has no choice but to make room for their rookie in the starting lineup. That’s why Mims’ preseason performances should offer clues on how Denver puts the finishing touches on its roster.