I found myself in awe of Michael Jordan when I watched “The Last Dance” docu-series last summer. Not just because of his excellence on the court, but also for how he conjured up inspiration and motivation in the most peculiar ways. Truly inspiring stuff to see the slightest disrespect turn into the reason His Airness would drop a 50-burger on your squad at a moment’s notice.
Full admission: I’ve long been amused by how professional athletes get pumped up. So when I saw that rookie cornerback Jaylon Johnson said every cornerback taken before him in the 2020 NFL Draft was inspiration, I thought it was awesome.
And it turns out he isn’t the only rookie keeping receipts on who went off the board before him:
MOONEY: “I’m a big competitor. I definitely feel like I shoulda gotten picked higher in the rounds. But it is what it is. It’s out of my control. I can only control what I can control. I’m here now, and they’ll just hear me from now on.”
Rookie receiver Darnell Mooney strongly believes he should’ve went earlier in the 2020 Draft. The Bears picked Mooney in the fifth round (173rd overall pick) after trading up to get him. Clearly, the Bears valued Mooney enough to swing a deal to land the Tulane product. And the early returns show Chicago’s move has been worthwhile.
Mooney has 18 catches, 196 receiving yards, and a touchdown. That comes out to 48 catches, 523 yards, and three touchdowns over a full 16-game season. It’s a good start considering Mooney’s draft spot and where he began the year on the depth chart. Mooney has moved past Javon Wims and Riley Ridley despite being a first-year rookie in the scheme. Seeing how Mooney continues to get an increased snap load makes me think that passing Anthony Miller and entrenching himself as WR2 isn’t out of the realm of possibilities.
Receivers often get unflattering labels because of their outspokenness. But with Mooney letting his game do the talking, he’ll continue to carve out a bigger role as he ascends as a rookie (and beyond).