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Another Big First Impression For Bengals First-Rounder Amarius Mims

OT Amarius Mims visits Cincinnati after the Bengals drafted him in the 2024 NFL Draft.
OT Amarius Mims visits Cincinnati after the Bengals drafted him in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Amarius Mims, the Bengals' new super-sized right tackle, has spent most of his 21 years leaving big first impressions and Friday was no different when their first-round draft pick arrived for the first time at Paycor Stadium as a new territory of Who-Dey nation.

The 6-8, 340-pound Mims surfaced as fresh and vibrant as his crisp polo shirt and slacks.

"He's always got to be tucked in and that top button always has to be buttoned," said Nikkii Mims, his mother who wondered what might have been.

"He never gets mad. But we saw him mad today. He was wearing a gray suit, and it was going to be nice. But just before we got on the plane, his knee touched the tire of the car, and he wasn't going to wear it."

It turns out the Bengals may not have only drafted a future bookend, but they seemed to have added a perfectionist to the shelf.

"When it comes to his football, he is," said Prentice Purnell, his father.

The Bengals had the right wardrobe. They gave him No. 71 with "Mims," stitched across the back and he knew that it was once worn by Ring of Honor member Willie Anderson.

"I know Willie. One of my friends (Georgia teammate), Warren McClendon worked with him," said Mims, just before he and head coach Zac Taylor unfurled the jersey for the cameras.

An old-school number for a 21-year-old guy his dad says, "has some throwback in him." He certainly won't handle it with kid gloves. In fact, he won't be wearing any gloves at all.

"It's a statement to me," Mims said. "About planning to be physical. It's like I was telling (offensive line coach) Frank (Pollack). If I see the defensive end out there with no gloves, just finger tape, I know what kind of game it's going to be. It's going to be a rough game. I'm not going to put on gloves unless it's 10 degrees outside."

Bengals old-school left tackle Orlando Brown Jr., his fellow 6-8 man-child, made sure he was at Paycor Friday to welcome him. Maybe just to see it to believe it. They may be the same height. "But (Mims) is thicker this way," Brown said.

With another 6-8 tackle joining the Bengals last month in 10-year vet Trent Brown, Orlando Brown could never remember a time he was the third biggest guy on a team.

And even though he's been named to four Pro Bowls, Brown says there are things this kid can do that he can't.

"Just physically. I've seen him run," Orlando Brown said. "He has natural flexibility. The ankles. The hips. It's hard to do that as a big guy. Those are things for me I had to work on. He's naturally gifted. I have muscles, but I don't have muscles on muscles."

Amarius has been an awe-inspiring sight since his dad can remember. Purnell remembers the demands to see his birth certificate before some of his little league football games. He also remembers taking his six-year-old into the backyard and lofting 30-yard bombs the kid would run under.

It turns out, the son is a chip off the old block. They both grew up in the small Georgia town of Cochran (pop. about 4,000), two hours down I-75 South from Atlanta. Just like Nikki. Dad and son both played on the line for Bleckley County High School. His dad on defense, Amarius on offense.

Amarius was born when Prentice Purnell was playing junior college ball before he played nose tackle and three technique at 6-3, 340 pounds for West Georgia. He had a shot to play in Canada, but he wanted to stay close to the family and his roots in Cochran.

So he ended up banging around the Arena League, first with the Georgia Force for a couple of years and then he ended up beating Amarius to pro football in Ohio, first for a year with the Columbus Destroyers and then two in Cleveland with the Gladiators. There were also stints with the Alabama Vipers and Orlando Predators and the football rubbed off on the son.

Pollack realized that Friday when they did some quick board work before his news conference.

"We were working on the playbook. I remembered a lot of the stuff from the 30 visit," Mims said of his Paycor visit two weeks ago as a draft prospect. "He was surprised."

Mims isn't. Not with a 3.6 grade point average. His high school line coach and offensive coordinator, Ryan McKenzie, isn't, either. On Friday he was thinking about a 6-4, 270-pound eighth-grader he took to practice not long ago and saw the kid looking at images of Mims on his phone.

"Do you know who that is?" McKenize asked and the kid said, " 'He goes to Georgia, and I want to be just like him.'

"So I called Amarius and put him on and the kid almost started crying. Amarius spent a lot of time talking to him. That's the kind of guy he is. It's never about him. It's about his teammates, his family, friends. Character off the roof."

So no one was surprised he said all the right things. How he was ready to learn playing behind Orlando and Trent Brown. How he would play any side. Where ever they needed him. His shoutout to Big Willie.

"His draft party says something, too," said McKenzie of Thursday night's gathering in Atlanta. "Almost every O-lineman from Georgia was there. Broderick Jones came over from Pittsburgh hoping and praying he would fall to them. There were people from the community he's been involved with. Family. Friends. About 50 people. It was chill."

On Friday, there was chili, a social media welcome to the Bengals.

Amarius Mims gave a thumbs-up, but kept the coney at an elite arm's length so the shirt remained crisp.


2024 NFL Draft

The Bengals source of news, interviews, photos and more at the 2024 NFL Draft.