Chicago Bears wide receiver Darnell Mooney has an incredible opportunity in the 2022 NFL season. He has a chance to prove that he is, in fact, a legitimate No. 1 wide receiver and that the concerns about the Bears’ wide receivers this offseason have been overstated. If Mooney emerges as a 1,200-yard, 10-touchdown guy, he’ll cement is status as one of the NFL’s top young playmakers.
For now, there’s a better way to describe Mooney’s game: underrated.
The folks at Pro Football Focus agree, and named Mooney the Bears’ most underrated player entering the 2022 season.
“If you polled only Bears fans, Mooney might actually be a little overrated, but they have good reason to be optimistic about their speedster receiver and he does appear to be a lot lower in everybody else’s consciousness,” PFF’s Sam Monson wrote. “Mooney has dropped just 4.1% of catchable targets in Chicago and possesses the kind of speed and quickness combination that scares defenses at all levels. If the team can put a viable offense around him, Mooney could quickly see his production jump to meet his potential.”
It’s true that Bears fans are high — very high — on Darnell Mooney’s outlook in 2022, but why shouldn’t they be? He eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards in 2021 despite an offense that lacked any kind of play under former coach Matt Nagy’s watch. He built instant chemistry with quarterback Justin Fields, which they’ve expanded this offseason while training together in Atlanta.
Mooney, 24, will begin the 2022 season as the Bears’ unquestioned WR1. He’ll be Fields’ first read and most trusted target. There’s no reason to think he won’t set career-highs in receptions, yards and touchdowns this year.
And if he does that, he won’t be underrated anymore. Instead, he’ll be appreciated for the gifted player he is.
Bryan is the founder and managing editor of Bears Talk. His previous stops include Bears coverage for NBC Sports Chicago and USA Today.