Much has been made this offseason of the lack of wide receivers on the Chicago Bears roster. General Manager Ryan Poles added Byron Pringle in free agency to complement third-year pro Darnell Mooney, but the rest of the depth chart lacks any established pass-catching talent.
The 2022 NFL draft could offer the Bears an excellent opportunity to add a starting-quality wide receiver in the second round. Chicago has two picks in the top 50 at No. 39 and 48. Prospects like Georgia’s George Pickens and North Dakota State’s Christian Watson should be on the board when the Bears pick. Both receivers would be an instant upgrade for Chicago’s No. 3 spot, perhaps even the No. 2.
Before the Bears can bank on any of this year’s rookies as crucial contributors, Mooney must continue his development and emerge as a viable WR1. This offseason, he’s working closely with quarterback Justin Fields to build on the chemistry they developed in 2021, and some clips of their sessions were shared on Twitter. Check it out:
— Coach Simeon “Steamin Willie Beamen” Kelley (@SirSimeonKelley) March 29, 2022
Darnell Mooney has a chance to emerge in 2022
Mooney ended the 2021 season with 81 catches for 1,055 yards and four scores. His catches and yards set a new high watermark for his young career. With wide receiver Allen Robinson now a Los Angeles Ram, Mooney’s path has been cleared to be the unquestioned go-to guy.
Pringle is a fine addition as a cheap potential starter in free agency. He signed a one-year deal with the Bears to prove the only thing that stopped him from being a more productive wide receiver in Kansas City was the talent ahead of him on the depth chart. He has good size and speed and proved in limited opportunities with the Chiefs that he could make plays when his number is called.
Regardless of how much Mooney develops and how productive Pringle is with more reps, the Bears still need to add at least one more wide receiver through the draft. But Mooney’s effort and desire to be great have been evident since he entered the league as a fifth-round pick in 2020. He should emerge as one of the top young wide receivers in the NFL in 2022 with an upside similar to what we used to see from DeSean Jackson in the early portion of his career with the Philadelphia Eagles.