Darnell Mooney

Chicago Bears 53-man roster and Depth Chart prediction: Wide Receiver

The Chicago Bears will kick off training camp in less than one month, and the daily battle for roster spots and starting jobs comes with it.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll break down each position group and predict which players will make the final roster and what the 2023 depth chart should look like.

We already reviewed quarterbacks and running backs. Now it’s time to look at the wide receivers.

WR1: DJ Moore

WR1: DJ Moore

Like Justin Fields at quarterback, there’s no debate over who the WR1 in Chicago is.

Moore was the ribbon that tied the blockbuster trade with the Carolina Panthers together. He’s a dynamic playmaker who can flip the field unlike any receiver the Chicago Bears have rostered since peak Brandon Marshall.

Moore will get the lion’s share of targets in the Bears’ passing offense this season. It won’t be particularly close.

WR2: Darnell Mooney

WR2: Darnell Mooney

Darnell Mooney appears headed for a “may the best man win” duel with Chase Claypool for a lucrative second contract with the Bears. And if I were betting money on who I think will win that battle, it’s Mooney.

Despite coming off of a serious ankle injury that ended his 2022 season, Mooney is on track to be full-go for training camp and looks like he’s in the best shape of his life.

It was unfair to expect Mooney to produce like a WR1 when the offense was in transition last season. A new offensive coordinator and a still-developing Fields made it nearly impossible for any pass-catcher to produce. As a result, Mooney had the worst season of his career.

I expect Mooney will approach the 1,000-yard threshold once again in 2023 and earn that multi-year deal by season’s end.

WR3: Chase Claypool

WR3: Chase Claypool

Chase Claypool has a lot to prove in 2023. It’s a tough position for him to be in, considering it isn’t entirely his fault. Ryan Poles was the one who decided to trade the Chicago Bears’ 2023 second-round pick for him, and the fact it turned into the 32nd overall selection magnified what was a disappointing first impression of Claypool with the Bears.

But that’s all over now. Claypool has received rave reviews from coaches and Justin Fields throughout the offseason, but a soft-tissue injury sidelined him for the final round of OTAs and Chicago’s veteran minicamp.

Still, the table is set for Claypool to feast in 2023. With Moore attracting most of the opposing defense’s attention, Claypool will have his fair share of downfield one-on-ones.

WR4: Tyler Scott

WR4: Tyler Scott

Don’t rule out Tyler Scott pushing Claypool for legitimate reps alongside Moore and Mooney.

Yes, he’s that talented.

Scott never should’ve slid to the fourth round of the 2023 NFL draft. He was a legitimate second-round talent whose game is eerily similar to Seattle Seahawks’ star, Tyler Lockett.

Blessed with speed for days, Scott will be a dynamic after-the-catch weapon who will do everything Velus Jones Jr. was supposed to in 2022 (more on that below).

If you’re a dynasty fantasy player, get yourself some shares of Scott.

WR5: Dante Pettis

WR5: Dante Pettis

Maybe I’m a little too high on Dante Pettis. But I’m rolling with this projection. I think he’ll make the 53-man roster, and while his role won’t be nearly as big as it was in 2022, he’ll still have some relevance as the 2023 season unfolds.

Pettis remains an underrated route-runner who has a knack for getting open. He was Justin Fields’ favorite receiver in spurts in 2022, and I don’t think that will be overlooked.

Pettis also provides special teams value as a returner, which separates him from other roster-bubble guys.

WR6: Equanimeous St. Brown

WR6: Equanimeous St. Brown

Unlike Pettis, I’m not nearly as high as the Bears coaches seem to be on Equanimeous St. Brown. He’s a JAG (just a guy) who’s shown us exactly who he is as a receiver since entering the NFL in 2018. He’s never had more than 328 yards in a season.

That’s who he is.

But he’s also a top-tier run blocker and special teams contributor. He hustles, and we all know how much value that has in Matt Eberflus’ system.

When all’s said and done, I think the Bears will err on the side of keeping St. Brown on the active roster and carry six wideouts into opening day.


Practice Squad: Velus Jones Jr.

Practice Squad: Velus Jones Jr.

It seems like a lifetime ago that I was defending the Chicago Bears’ selection of Velus Jones Jr. in the third round of the 2022 NFL draft. I thought Jones would provide the Bears with an offensive weapon that it desperately needed at the time. Instead, he fumbled, muffed, and dropped almost every opportunity he had to produce.

His late-season production surge won’t be enough to wash away the disappointment from his rookie season. He isn’t a young second-year player (as we all know that by now), and he isn’t a developmental project with upside. As a rookie, he had to show the Bears right away that he was the right pick. He didn’t, and as a result, his road to the final roster in 2023 will hit a brick wall.

53-man roster: Bears carry six WRs

53-man roster: Bears carry six WRs

The Chicago Bears carried six wide receivers at the start of the 2022 season, and with the emphasis placed on the advancement of this passing game in 2023, they’ll carry at least that number to start this season.

The good news for Bears fans is that there shouldn’t be many surprises at wide receiver this summer. The top six are strong bets to make the squad. If an unexpected preseason hero emerges? Great. Otherwise, you can feel good about the job Ryan Poles has done in the receiver room.

Roster Count:

QB: 2
RB: 4
WR: 6

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