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Bears Draft Wrap-Up

Mooney a hard worker, fast learner at Tulane


According to Darnell Mooney's college coach, the Bears' fifth-round draft pick is a talented receiver who possesses versatility and an excellent work ethic.

"He's a pretty reserved young man, but just an awesome person," Tulane coach Willie Fritz said last week on the Bears All-Access radio show on WSCR 670 AM.

Mooney was among the first players Fritz recruited and signed after being hired by Tulane in 2016. The coach said that it was the only Division I offer the 5-11, 174-pounder from Gadsen, Ala., received.

Mooney was a four-year starter at Tulane who played in 49 games and caught 151 passes for 2,529 yards and 19 touchdowns. He had a breakout junior season in 2018, catching 48 passes for 993 yards and eight TDs. Mooney followed last year with 45 receptions for 670 yards and five touchdowns.

Fritz revealed that during Mooney's four years on campus, the receiver never missed a class, tutoring appointment, study hall or workout.

"This guy is as dependable as you could possibly get," Fritz said. "He did a fantastic job for us and it was a pleasure to coach him."

Mooney contributed as soon as he stepped on campus, catching 24 passes for 267 yards and two touchdowns as a freshman in 2016.

"Normally the freshmen that are able to get out there and especially start for you are the ones that learn the system quickly and don't make mistakes and can get lined up," Fritz said. "The reason he played as a freshman is that he picked things up very quickly."

Despite Mooney's lack of size, he consistently demonstrated the ability and willingness to block.

"We knew he was a talent and a very good route runner and a very sure-handed kid as well," Fritz said. "And for a smaller guy, he's going to battle you. He's going to get in the middle of you and block. It's so important. If you can just get attached to a guy, that allows the running back to shake loose and get up the field and score. He's also a tenacious blocker as well."

During his career at Tulane, Mooney never stopped striving to improve.

"He was on the JUGS machine for a half hour after every practice," Fritz said. "He got faster and stronger and smarter. He was always up there trying to learn more. He's a big-time gym rat. He's a great example for us."

Mooney played both outside and in the slot at Tulane, which operated a spread-option attack his first three seasons before switching to a pro-style scheme last year under new coordinator Will Hall.

"[Mooney] is going to be used to the routes and the progressions and changing routes based on coverage and things like that because he's been in that kind of a system," Fritz said.

Combining speed, leaping ability and excellent hands, Mooney is an exciting receiver to watch.

"He's got a great vertical jump," Fritz said. "He really high-points the ball well. He's been able to play out on the perimeter. He made an awful lot of circus catches for us over the years. He made a couple really big ones to help us beat Houston this past season.

"I think he's a good enough route runner. He certainly has got the speed and the movement to be able to get loose, get a little space between him and the DB so the quarterback can hit him."

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