Chicago Bears WR Darnell Mooney advanced stats review

Chicago Bears (Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports)
Chicago Bears (Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports) /

Darnell Mooney has become a polarizing player through no fault of his own. The Chicago Bears have him as their wide receiver one, most fans and media think he should be a wide receiver two, and some in the national media think he is a WR3 at best.

After his first two seasons, do the advanced stats show that Darnell Mooney can be the Chicago Bears top dog?

Darnell Mooney’s advanced stats review

Darnell Mooney averaged 4.8 yards after the catch per reception in 2021. This number is up from 4.5 during his rookie season. Overall, he ranked 25th out of 94 qualified wide receivers last year. Names surrounding him include D.J. Moore, Amon Ra-St. Brown, and Diontae Johnson. It is a good company to be in.

Mooney ranked 40th out of 94 in yards per route run. As a rookie, he was down at 1.2 yards per route run, but last season he blossomed to 1.72.

Despite Allen Robinson being on the roster, he was the leader in air yards, which helped increase his yards per route run. Still, he ranked 9th in unrealized air yards, which is air yards minus yards. Names such as D.K. Metcalf, Stefon Diggs, Terry McLaurin, and Courtland Sutton led the NFL in unrealized air yards last season, so this is not necessarily a bad thing.

In fact, it says more than it was the quarterback not getting Mooney the ball when he was open than it was Mooney not getting open, or not making catches.

On top of that, he ranked 34th in the drop rate, meaning he was above average in drops compared to the 94 qualified wideouts. DeAndre Hopkins and Cooper Kupp each had similar drop rates to Darnell Mooney. Again, he would have been more productive if the ball found him more because he was open and was not costing his team with drops.

Mooney ranked 20th in missed tackles force last season. His 10 miss tackles forced are actually down from 17 the season before. However, he is up from 33 first downs in 2020 to 49 in 2021, so he continues to make more quality receptions.

If there is one flaw in the game of Darnell Mooney it was his contested catch rate. Last season he caught just 20% of his contested passes, which put him 91sst in the NFL. He is with names such as Darius Slayton, Jalen Reagor and Laviska Shenault.

It is true that Mooney is slighter in his frame, but Jaylen Waddle, Rondale Moore, Russell Gage, and Nelson Agholor all are in the top 30 in contested catch rates. There is no reason for Mooney to be this low.

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He ranks 31st in contested catch targets, so he is getting chances. Also, with this many chances, had he hauled in a few more passes, there would probably be less discussion about whether he can take that step as a top wideout.