The Chicago Bears traded up to get Tulane receiver Darnell Mooney back in April. Typically 5th round picks don’t generate a lot of hype, but there were reasons to think this might be different. For one, GM Ryan Pace has a history of hitting on mid round picks when he trades up for them. See Eddie Jackson and Nick Kwiatkoski for examples. So it’s apparent they had Mooney pretty high on their board.

Comments from the coaching staff after he was drafted seem to back that up. Wide receivers coach Mike Furrey called him one of the more well-rounded guys in the draft. While best known for his blazing speed, he didn’t get enough attention for his route running and ability to make tough catches. The kid is also pretty intelligent. He came up with a novel way to practice the playbook by calling out plays as if he were in the huddle and then running them accordingly on the field.

It seems Mooney has fans elsewhere too. The makers of the Madden football games have released their first batch of ratings for the 2020 season. The Bears rookie got some surprisingly high marks. He was tied for the third-fastest speed in the class at a 93 while tying for fourth in acceleration at 92. For a 5th round pick, those are respectable marks.

So why did he only get a 66 overall rating?

Questions linger with Darnell Mooney in other areas

Speed isn’t the issue with Mooney. He clearly has it in abundance. Where the ratings seem to question him most is his overall strength and his hands. His strength rating of 51 was the fourth-worst among rookie receivers, no doubt fed by his weigh-in of 175 lbs. That is extremely light for the NFL. As for the hands, he had a bit of reputation in college for dropping passes. Something that fed into his 77 catch rating, tied for second-worst in the class.

His college coaches dispute that second issue. They explained that people don’t account for the quarterback play Mooney was dealing with. Many times he was forced to make adjustments to the ball in order to make a catch because the passes weren’t consistently accurate. The drop stats don’t account for that reality. Hence the stigma that he has trouble hanging onto the football.

The Bears don’t seem perturbed by it. They have high expectations for him and his Madden ratings showcase that potential.

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