Monday, July 18, 2022

Mike Furrey is the reason Darnell Mooney was drafted by the Bears


Brendan Sugrue 

In the lead-up to the NFL draft, there are scouts, coaches, and other front office personnel pounding their fists on the table for one player or another from colleges around the country.

Ultimately, the general manager has final say over who the team winds up choosing when they are on the clock, but behind that decision is conviction from any number of the front office or coaching staff who believe they found the next great NFL player.

In the case of Chicago Bears wide receiver Darnell Mooney, it was his former position coach that pushed hard for general manager Ryan Pace to draft him two years ago.

Mooney was drafted by the Bears in the fifth round of the 2020 NFL draft. Coming out of Tulane, Mooney had success in college, but was viewed as a backup receiver and wasn’t expected to make a significant impact for multiple reasons. But Mooney burst onto the scene in a hurry and became the team’s WR2 his rookie year. He took even more strides last season to cement himself as the unquestioned WR1 now heading into his third season. None of it would have happened if not for former wide receivers coach Mike Furrey.

In a piece written by Dan Pompei in The Athletic that details Mooney’s hard-working attitude and relentlessness to be great, one nugget stood out about the process in drafting the 24-year old receiver. According to Pompei, Furrey was doing homework on the receivers coming out of the 2020 NFL Draft and paused when he got to Mooney. Furrey was enamored with him as a prospect and even compared him to Hall of Fame wide receiver and former teammate Issac Bruce when it came to his mindset.

“His desire and passion are rare,” Furrey told Pompei.

Furrey was the Bears wide receivers coach under Matt Nagy from 2018-21, his first coaching stint at the professional level. He was previously a wide receiver in both the arena football league and NFL and coached in college, where he is again after being let go from the Bears earlier this winter. Towards the end of his Bears tenure, Furrey became an easy target for fans given the lack of development of many of his receivers, but willingness to fight opposing defenders. He was known for hyping players up on the sideline more than anything.

Furrey won’t be on anyone’s list for favorite Bears position coaches anytime soon, but he seemed to have an eye for talent. Without him, Mooney would be producing with another team instead and if his workouts this season are any indication, he’s on the cusp of greatness.

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