Facing another rough season, we are counting down the seven likeliest sources of hope for Chicago in its time of football need, and next up is a player who appeared on the list of every contributor who participated.
#5 Darnell Mooney (24 points)
Bill: Mooney has already proven to be a tremendous value for a 5th-round selection, and it’s already clear that he will be no worse than a solid WR2 in this league, but can Mooney take the next step and be a WR1 for the Chicago Bears? That still remains to be seen, but there’s plenty to like after two seasons.
Lester: I don’t think he can be a legit WR1 in the NFL, but teams need three receivers these days and his speed and football IQ makes him a valuable part of the offense’s future. You get him with a coach that can scheme him the ball on the move and he could be a YAC machine.
Jeff B: You need three wide receivers in this league and Mooney has proved he can serve as one of your main targets. The thing with a guy like Mooney is that he’ll only get better once you surround him with complementary receivers to allow him to do what he does best.
ECD: He’s a piece to build with on offense. The Bears will need to rebuild their receiving corps completely; moreover, Mooney is the only one scheduled to be on contract past the 2021 regular season. We’ve seen a high number of drops from Mooney, but he’s also the lone receiver who can create separation consistently. Once a competent play caller comes to Chicago, and a legit #1 type of guy to be paired with, I think Mooney will be a nice weapon to stock in their inventory for years to come.
Josh: Mooney is not the best receiver in the league, and he might not even be a true WR1. However, he’s a reliable weapon, and he seems to have a bond with Justin Fields. Ultimately, Mooney has stepped up every time he’s been given a chance.
Sam H: As others have said, he isn’t a No. 1 receiver, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t valuable. The key is to not miscast him, as has happened with other great No. 2 WRs in the past. Add complimentary players around him and let him thrive.
Rob Z: You can’t run an offense through Mooney. He’s not that kind of player, and never will be. But the sort of rare guy who turns six inches into 50 yards? He’s one of them. And contending offenses need guys like that in the fold.
Jack Salo: The Bears spent much of 2021 without a true go-to wide receiver. Allen Robinson has been blanketed in coverage and then hurt, while Darnell Mooney has looked every bit the part of an excellent secondary target. Every great team in the league has multiple options to throw to, and once Allen Robinson’s cap hit walks from this team, they’ll find a wide receiver worth being close to the top of this list. Mooney, meanwhile, has a crucial role to play in the future: keeping defenses honest.
Rob S: You know the only WR signed to play for the 2022 Chicago Bears had to make the list! Mooney may not be a classically dominant “WR1”, but with THREE 120+ receiving yard games thus far in the 2021 season I think we can agree that he’s developing into a nice little weapon both from outside the numbers and from the slot. He won’t be able to support the Bears’ 2022 passing attack alone, someone (or multiple someones) will undoubtedly be signed/drafted this offseason, but Mooney could easily blossom into a Tyler Lockett-esque player if he and Fields’ chemistry continues to grow — that impact is well worth his spot on my list.