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Chicago Bears Season Preview: Wide Receivers, will DJ Moore be a huge difference maker?

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Arguably the biggest move of the off-season was trading the first overall pick and getting wide receiver DJ Moore back as part of the compensation.

Is DJ Moore finally the player that’s going to boost Justin Fields’ production in the passing game?  Moore is a 6-0 210-pound receiver that three out of five seasons over 1,000 yards receiving.  He’s a clear number-one target for Fields and was already generating a buzz in OTAs and mini-camp.  Moore is a sneaky down-the-field threat as well as a strong route runner who will provide an immediate key option in the passing game for Fields.

Fields needs a clear go-to guy as he works to improve his passing production.  What DJ Moore has done in yards he has lacked in overall touchdown production proving to be more of a production yardage WR rather than a player who racks up TDs.  Will that change for him in Chicago now that he’s playing with arguably the most talented QB he’s played with in his career?

The Bears sure do hope so as it will be incumbent upon DJ Moore to elevate the Bears passing game to a level never seen before in the history of the franchise.  The Bears are the only team in the history of the NFL to not have a 4,000-yard passer.  Last year among the most productive Top-10 passing QBs only one player missed out on throwing for over 4,000 yards.  So if there is hope for Fields to be the passer the Bears need him to be, DJ Moore is going to need to have the best year of his career.  Moore will need to eclipse 1,100 yards to put himself among the leaders in yardage in 2023.

DJ Moore isn’t the only player the Bears hope will bolster their receiving core in 2022.  Chase Claypool dealt with injuries and massive inconsistency after the Bears traded for him midway through the 2022 season.  Claypool has a lot to prove in 2023 and for him, it’s personal, as it should be.  The Bears traded away the equivalent of a first-round pick by giving up the 32nd overall pick to the Steelers.  That’s a massive loss for the Bears as Claypool was a disaster in Chicago a year ago catching only 14 passes for 140 yards and ZERO touchdowns.

Claypool also missed critical time in the off-season program with an injury.  As it stands right now Claypool is a more productive version of N’Keal Harry but is also faced with the likelihood that 2023 may be his last year on an active NFL roster.  Claypool signed a four-year rookie deal and heads into the final year of his contract needing to prove himself so he can have a chance to get a second contract.  Harry faced similar circumstances a year ago and is now no longer in the NFL.

Darnell Mooney had been a fan favorite in his first two years with the team.  Mooney was a fifth-round pick who fought his way into a starting WR role by the end of his rookie year.  In year two Mooney surpassed 1,000 yards receiving for the first time.  Then with Allen Robinson moving on Mooney became the defacto number one receiver and struggled to become a productive threat in the passing game.  Mooney ultimately succumbed to a season-ending injury and faces the same circumstances as Claypool he’s in the final year of his rookie deal and needs to earn an extension.

If things come together and the top three receivers on the roster, DJ Moore, Claypool and Mooney play up to their full capabilities the Bears could have one of the best-receiving groups in the NFL.  Moore and Mooney both surpassing 1,000 yards would be a fantastic development for the passing attack.  Claypool getting double-digit TDs would be icing on the cake for what the Bears need from their passing game.

Elsewhere the Bears hope they have another Mooney-type steal in fourth-round pick Tyler Scott from Cincinnati.  Scott has top-end speed as he was a junior olympian in sprinting events.  If he can perfect his route running he should be a solid fourth option for the Bears.  He’s receiving some solid hype for falling to the fourth round so the hope the Bears got another bargain and he can push towards the upper echelons of the depth chart the same way Mooney did in his rookie year.


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