Arkush: Do the Bears have the fastest wide receiver corps in the NFL?

  • Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson works out last week at training camp at Halas Hall.

    Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson works out last week at training camp at Halas Hall. Associated Press

  • The Bears' Darnell Mooney puts a move on Green Bay linebacker Christian Kirksey last season at Soldier Field.

    The Bears' Darnell Mooney puts a move on Green Bay linebacker Christian Kirksey last season at Soldier Field. Mark Busch/mbusch@shawmedia.com

 
 
Updated 7/31/2021 5:32 PM

The need for speed is a common thread that runs through every move the Bears made this past offseason on offense.

Justin Fields is now the third-fastest QB in the league based on his 40-yard dash time. He trails only Kyler Murray and Lamar Jackson.

 

David Montogmery's backup, Damien Williams is two-tenths of a second faster than Montgomery himself.

At wideout, free agent Marquis Goodwin owns the fourth fastest 40-time in the history of the combine -- 4.27, Damiere Byrd ran a 4.25 at his pro day.

Along with Darnell Mooney and Tarik Cohen, the Bears now have four pass catchers that have run 4.38 or faster.

But while fast, are they good enough?

Allen Robinson is a legit No. 1 receiver. Since he's playing on the franchise tag, he will be motivated to chase his best season ever.

That shifts the spotlight onto Mooney, the surprise breakout star of last year's draft after lasting until the fifth round and then grabbing 61 catches for 631 yards to go along with 4 touchdowns.

Matt Nagy loves what he's seen and is seeing in Mooney.

"He's following a guy like A-Rob as his mentor. They are attached to the hip. It's a really neat deal.

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"It's cool to see those two grow together and these other guys come up and learn how they do it.

"And Mooney, I think he's in store for a good year."

To hear Mooney tell it though, good doesn't really interest him. He talked about his aspirations Friday after practice saying, "This year I just want to be an explosive player, I want to be dominant.

"I want to be a known factor, a known name."

Asked for his definition of dominant Mooney added, "For sure I want 1,000 yards. That's the top tier for every receiver.

"I just want all top of the charts of anything, it can be touchdowns, yards, catches, it doesn't matter.

"I want the top."

But even with two top receivers, no NFL team has enough. The arrival of Goodwin and Byrd becomes pivotal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Nagy explained why he thinks snagging them both was huge. "It's huge because you have a guy like ARob, who has been in this league for a long time, but is still young and does it his way," Nagy said.

"Then you have a guy like Marquise that comes in, and Marquise was, I don't know if you all saw it, but he was the first guy out yesterday catching balls out of the jugs, very first guy out at practice yesterday.

"Byrd's easy, he does what he's supposed to do.

"He's fast, he's a smooth runner, he doesn't look like ... Marquise, you can really see and feel that speed.

"But Damiere, when he's out there catching the ball and he goes, he glides.

"I'm proud of him right now."

Suure they're burners, but are they good enough receivers?

Goodwin had a very nice 2017 season in San Francisco, the only time he's played 16 games, catching 5 passes for 962 yards with 2 TDs, but in his other six seasons combined -- he opted out in 2020 -- he's played just 59 games and caught 84-1361 and 11 TDss.

Byrd's only 16-game season was last year: 47-604, with a touchdown while his other four years combined are just 28 games: 44-488, with 3 touchdowns.

Byrd's career 12.0 average per catch is not indicative of his speed, nor was Mooney's 10.3 average last year, but Byrd thinks it would be hard to find a faster group.

"I think it would be hard to put together speed in our room, collectively.

"It's hard to cover three or four sub -- 4.4 guys on the field at the same time."

Yes it is, but only if they can all model the route running, hands and contested ball ability of Robinson, traits only Mooney has shown and that all three of these burners still need to develop.

Throw in what is starting to look like a slower than expected ACL rehab for Cohen, and the Bears still have as many questions about their pass catchers as they have speed.

This group will definitely scare every defense they see this season. How many they beat will depend on how much more complete these undersized blazers can become.

@Hub_Arkush

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