One phrase that is rather popular among football men when it comes to player evaluation is “pound the table.” In scouting terms, it means when someone heavily advocates for a certain player in free agency or the draft that the team must go after. Even if they are the only person doing so. That sort of conviction is unique. For example, Chris Ballard pounded the table for Charles Tillman back in 2003 when he was a Bears scout. It seems the team had another such moment this year. Only it came from, of all people, wide receivers coach Mike Furrey.

One of the surprise picks of the weekend by Chicago was when they traded up from the 6th round to the bottom of the 5th at pick #173. There they secured the rights to Tulane wide receiver Darnell Mooney. He turned a lot of heads in the national media at the scouting combine when he ran a 4.38 in the 40-yard dash. A definite vertical threat with true speed. According to the Bears GM, Furrey wanted him bad.

In general, the Bears wanted to find another playmaker with speed. Mooney, who ran the 40 in 4.38 seconds at the combine, landed on the Bears’ radar early during the regular season and then was later discussed in their meetings in December.

Pace likes to hear strong opinions from his scouts when cases are made for or against players. But this time it came from receivers coach Mike Furrey.

“It was neat to hear Mike Furrey kind of pounding the table from his office,” Pace said.

More came from new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, passing game coordinator Dave Ragone and Nagy.

Mike Furrey clearly saw something special in Mooney

Furrey was one of the holdovers from the Bears purge of their offensive coaching staff back in January. So they value his input more than most. The man himself played in the NFL for a number of years. He’s seen his share of great receivers. He played with Tory Holt in St. Louis for three seasons. Then he worked with Calvin Johnson for two years in Detroit. So Furrey has seen the pinnacle of the position being played.

It means something when he speaks out so strongly in favor of a player.

Draft experts for their part understand the allure of Mooney. Both Daniel Jeremiah of NFL Network and Matt Miller of Bleacher Report compared him to Travis Benjamin. Five years ago he was considered one of the most dangerous speed receivers in the NFL. Unfortunately, injuries shut his window a bit faster than some would’ve liked. Mooney has that same body type, athleticism, and knack for stressing the defense deep.

Head coach Matt Nagy also said his route running is better than it gets credit for. No doubt another thing in his favor. It will be fun to see how the Bears put him to use this coming season.

Erik Lambert
Educated to be a writer at the prestigious Columbia College in Chicago, Erik has spent the past 10 years covering the Bears.