May 25, 2022

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Chicago Bears Keeping Close Watch On Darnell Mooney Look-A-Like

GM Ryan Poles knows the Chicago Bears need more weapons for Justin Fields. It’s not like he is ignorant of that fact. The trouble is the offense needs lots of work. In his mind, the offensive line takes greater priority. That is why the Bears have focused their free agency efforts on it. A fair argument given Fields was sacked 36 times in 12 games last season. Still, they can’t think a trio of Darnell Mooney, Byron Pringle, and Equanimeous St. Brown is good enough to keep NFL defenses honest.

So maybe two Mooneys might do the trick. Sources indicate the Bears had representatives down at the Memphis pro day. It clearly indicates they’re keeping tabs on dynamic Tigers wide receiver Calvin Austin III. This is hardly a surprise. Though only 5’8 in size, the kid was an absolute sparkplug whenever he touched the football. Joe Marino of The Draft Network thinks people are sleeping on him.

In fact, his preferred comparison for Austin was none other than Mooney.

“Calvin Austin III had a decorated football and track career at Memphis, but don’t confuse him as a track guy that plays football—Austin is an outstanding football player that also runs track. Austin is an explosive athlete that can take the top off the defense but is also lethal with the ball in his hands. His skill set demands touches in the quick passing game, on handoffs, and in the vertical passing game. Austin isn’t just a speedster, he is a nuanced receiver that runs great routes, has terrific hands, and has excellent ball skills.

Prospect Comparison: Darnell Mooney (2020 NFL Draft, Chicago Bears)”

What was so remarkable about Austin was his ability to score almost any time he touched the football. As a classic receiver, he had 19 touchdowns on just 137 total catches between 2020 and 2021. If that weren’t enough, he had three touchdowns on eight total rushing attempts in his college career, averaging a whopping 21.1 yards per carry. Last but not least, he had 25 punt returns, averaged 11.1 yards per return, and scored twice.

Marino was correct. Get the ball into Austin’s hands and good things happen. If he were 3-4 inches taller, there is no doubt he’d be in the 1st round conversation. As things stand, his size is likely to see him go somewhere between the 2nd and 3rd rounds. Great news for the Bears, who now have three picks in that range following the Khalil Mack trade.

Chicago Bears would undoubtedly have what they seek in Austin

Poles said the team would covet speed on offense far more moving forward. After what he witnessed in Kansas City for several years, that isn’t a surprise. Pairing guys like Tyreek Hill, Mecole Hardman, and Sammy Watkins together led to big things for the Chiefs. Especially when they had a rocket-armed QB slinging the football in Patrick Mahomes. The Bears feel they might have something similar in Fields.

Mooney has already proven to be one of the better deep threats in the NFL. Adding Austin and his verified 4.32/40 would only add to the explosiveness on offense. That doesn’t even include the unheralded Pringle and his respectable 4.46. Perhaps their versatility would stand out the most with such a group. All three receivers have shown they’re capable of big plays beyond the usual pass-catch routine.

Few things can help a young QB more than weapons that work after the catch.

Mooney proved he could do that last year, as did Pringle. Austin made that his calling card at Memphis. It stands to reason he can do the same in the NFL.

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