Chicago Bears Late-Round Steal Darnell Mooney
The Chicago Bears traded up with the Philadelphia Eagles back into the fifth round to grab a new speedster wide receiver in Darnell Mooney out of Tulane. Mooney replaces the speed the Bears lost when they released veteran Taylor Gabriel. Shortly after the draft, the Bears signed Ted Ginn Jr. to a veteran minimum deal, but that is the short-term answer. Mooney has the chance to be the long-term answer for Chicago at a position of need.
Mooney excelled greatly at Tulane leading his team in receiving in both 2018 and 2019. His speed and deep threat ability made him lethal for the Green Wave. Mooney started in eight games as a true freshman and then started every game in his sophomore, junior, and senior seasons.
In 2018 as a junior, he impressed the most catching 48 passes for 993 yards and eight touchdowns. He ranked sixth in the nation with 20.7 yards per catch. The next season, he wasn't as impressive, but he still showcased his breakaway speed and deep threat ability with 48 catches for 713 yards and five touchdowns. In 2018, he took short passes and turned them into touchdowns of 86, 79, and 55 yards.
Mooney showed his true speed at the combine running a 4.38 which was good for the fourth-fastest time at the combine. The problem surrounding him is his strength and size. Mooney only stands at 5' 10" and weighs 176 pounds. He only had nine bench press reps as well which was tied for second-worst of everybody who performed.
He also had favorable broad jump (124) and vertical jump (37.0) numbers. Denzel Mims and Henry Ruggs had very similar 40 times, broad jump, and vertical jump numbers. According to Player Profiler, Mooney compares to Paul Richardson, who was a solid deep threat that struggled to stay healthy.
Three Biggest Strengths (According to NFL.com)
Capable of lining up inside or outside
Uses sudden stem and release to beat press
Instant cushion muncher against off-man
Three Biggest Weaknesses
Built like a stick with thin frame and limbs
Size brings natural concerns over durability
Not enough attention to detail in his routes
What This Means for the Bears
The Chicago Bears replaced their true, aging deep threat in Gabriel with an upgrade in Ginn for the time being, but they also replaced him for the long-term with Mooney. Mooney can now study under a player who has been a very solid deep threat for 13 seasons in the NFL. Mooney is considered small, but Gabriel was just fine for the Bears and he was even shorter and smaller.
What This Means for Fantasy
When it comes to fantasy, Mooney can be a priority add to your dynasty team and stash on your taxi squad. According to Fantasy Football Calculator, he isn't being drafted in the first three rounds of 12-team dynasty rookie drafts. He could be worth a shot in the dark as a priority add once your rookie draft ends, especially if he becomes what Taylor Gabriel was.
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Check out how the other 2020 wide receivers grade out here!