The jokes about Chicago Bears rookie wide receiver Velus Jones Jr.’s age have subsided. The 25-year-old first-year pro was the target of wisecracks after being selected in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft. The Bears were projected to spend one of their two second-round picks on a more highly touted receiver prospect but opted for defense instead. As a result, draft experts and national media went on the attack.
None of that matters anymore. Jones is an NFL wide receiver embarking on his first training camp. And all he’s done in OTAs and minicamps is impress his coaches and teammates.
Wide receiver Darnell Mooney put the league on notice Tuesday when he offered spontaneous praise of Velus Jones’ game.
“One guy, Velus, man. When he gets the ball, y’all are going to see,” Mooney said Tuesday. “He can fly. He can be a playmaker for sure for us.”
Playmakers are what the Bears’ offense needs. It’s what general manager Ryan Poles was expected to target in free agency. But after his first trip through the open market, he settled on lesser-known talents like wide receivers Byron Pringle, David Moore, and Equanimeous St. Brown. The selection of Jones in the NFL Draft was a continuation of that theme. Poles went against the grain and trusted his process. We’ll soon find out if his approach was sound, but, for now, Bears players are buying in.
Quarterback Justin Fields agreed with Mooney’s scouting report of Jones.
“He’s fast,” Field said. “He can make plays. Yards after the catch, for sure. He’s a good player.”
Jones’ speed shouldn’t come as a surprise. He ran a blistering 4.31 40-yard dash at the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine and was one of the more explosive receivers during the week of practices at the Senior Bowl.
The Bears’ wide receivers have been criticized all offseason. And while much of that criticism is fair, it’s teetered on exhausting. It’s been relentless. We’re finally at the point in the football calendar when player performance takes over and controls the narrative. Jones is beginning to change the talking points already, and if he has a hot start in training camp and the preseason, there will be a lot of freezing cold takes shared on social media.
The Bears will conclude mandatory minicamp this week and break for the summer until the start of training camp in July.
Bryan is the founder and managing editor of Bears Talk. His previous stops include Bears coverage for NBC Sports Chicago and USA Today. His NFL Draft and Bears coverage has also been featured on The Draft Network.