By the time NFL hopefuls start preparing for combines, pro days, and interviews, most have already spent years working with position coaches, strength and conditioning coaches, and a flurry of paid advisors that have made a living off of developing "raw talent" for high school and college programs.
Supposedly, raw talent at the NFL level doesn't exist. Then there's David Mims.
Even the biggest of college football fans will be googling the unheralded offensive tackle from Division II Virginia Union.
Mims showed up in St. Joseph for Chiefs training camp with little known about him other than his monstrous size. Standing at 6-foot-8 and 335 pounds, it doesn't take long to notice Mims when he steps onto the practice field. With dominating strength and size, Hall of Fame tackles are envious of Mims. His god-given talent has laid a path to the NFL but now is when the real work starts.
"It's been moving really fast but it's starting to slow down a little bit," Mims said in October. "I'm just glad I get the opportunity to get better and fine-tune my craft."
Mims was released in early September after NFL rosters were trimmed down to 53 but cleared waivers and was quickly added to the Chiefs' practice squad. Earlier this week, Mims was activated to the 53-man roster after Gaither's release.
In spite of his designer size, Mims is still far from polished. At Virginia Union, he relied entirely off his raw abilities to dominate the Division II ranks. Due to their small size and lack of funding, Virginia Union lacked an offensive line coach or strength and conditioning coach.
"We had coaches," said Mims, "but it wasn't really tailored to the offensive line. It was more working with the whole team, the whole offense. It was kind of tough but they did the best they could do."
Now that he is with the Chiefs, who seem to have a specialist for everything from shoe-tying to nutrition, Mims is getting all the tutoring he could ever want.
"It's different, but I think it's the way it should be," he said. "It's definitely a good jump. I'm just trying to learn as much as possible each day and just try to get better."
But Mims is not completely reliant on his new coaching staff for guidance. He had a mentor in Gaither, who has a similar build. Mims said he tried to learn from Gaither this season both by watching him and asking him questions.
Although Gaither and Mims are similar in their size, it appears they differ in work ethic. Gaither is a perfect example of how physical skill alone will not lead to a successful NFL career. Although he was claimed off waivers by the San Diego Chargers, Gaither has never lived up to his abilities and saw the field sparingly with the Chiefs.
What separates talent from longevity in the NFL boils down to technique and desire. So is Mims driven enough to become the all-star player he has the potential to be?
"It took a lot of hard work to get to this point and it's going to take a lot more to get to that point," he said. "I just think about all the people that helped me along the way and all the time I put in. You get out there on Sunday and it's everything from high school to little league, college, I think about all that and I can't wait to get a chance."
When that chance comes is anybody's guess but with the release of Gaither, the Chiefs currently carry only three other tackles in Barry Richardson, Branden Albert and Steve Maneri who is viewed as more of a large tight end. If an injury occurs to either Albert or Richardson, Mims could take the field.
Coming out of college, most scouts had Mims pegged as a right tackle due to his lack of technical skill. This is likely the best position for Mims to hone his craft at the NFL level but he could switch to the left side once his mental abilities catch up to his physical ones
"I was excited to just get out there for the preseason game and that's not even the real deal," Mims said. "It'll be exciting."
WARPAINT ILLUSTRATED MESSAGE BOARDS:
What do you think about David Mims?
For all the news, notes and quotes on the Chiefs, visit WarpaintIllustrated.com