Chicago Bears rookie wide receiver Darnell Mooney used his work ethic to have an impact from the moment he stepped foot in college. Now he wants to use it to do the same in the NFL.
One of the priorities for the Chicago Bears‘ offseason was to improve the wide receivers corps. They let go of speedy receiver Taylor Gabriel so they needed another speedy receiver to replace him. He had his moments but wasn’t consistent enough to be a threat. Last season, he missed seven games due to injury. Also, 21 percent of his yards (75 of 353) and 75 percent of his touchdowns (three of four) came against Washington alone.
Also, beyond Allen Robinson and Anthony Miller there are questions. Second-year man Riley Ridley showed in college that he could make an impact but he played sparingly in his rookie season. Javon Wims is a seventh-round pick and has 218 yards and one touchdown in limited play over two seasons. He’ll get a chance to show if he could do more but we don’t know for now.
The Bears didn’t go for one of the top receivers via free agency, though they did pick up Ted Ginn Jr. Instead, they went through the draft. They selected Tulane receiver Darnell Mooney in the fifth round. Some argue that picking up a receiver was a bigger priority and that there were better options early. However, this was a deep wide receiver class and might be one of the best wide receiver classes in the history of the draft. In other years, Mooney could be a third-round pick.
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Mooney has speed and athleticism to spare. At Tulane, he took short passes and turned them into touchdown runs of 86, 79, and 55 yards. While he played both slot and outside receiver in college, he’ll likely be solely a slot receiver in Chicago due to his size (5-foot-10, 176 pounds). He has a similar body type to DeSean Jackson, who built a good 12-year career.
What helps Mooney the most is his work ethic. He made an impact at Tulane as a freshman due to him working hard and learning the playbook. He’s doing the same with the Chicago Bears. Since he has nothing else to do because of the quarantine, he buried his head into the team’s playbook.
It’s just the understanding of football, the concepts of routes and how they go together, and just studying your playbook. It takes time to learn things. If you want to do good in math, you’ll take time to study math. If you take time to study your plays, you’ll be fine.
In addition to learning the playbook, he also runs the plays on his own. He has a recording of the plays and he gets on the field near his home and acts like he’s in an actual huddle. Then he runs the route and has a quarterback friend throw the ball to him.
Mooney puts in all that work to ensure he makes a good first impression once practices start. He wants to hit the road running and show that the Bears made a good choice in drafting him. The Bears have a player with a chip on his shoulder who wants to succeed and that could bode well for them.