September 24, 2023

Bears Analysis

Top 25 most important Bears in 2023: No. 2 DJ Moore

Moore has averaged more than 1,000 receiving yards per season in his NFL career

Chicago Bears wide receiver DJ Moore works on the field during OTAs on Tuesday, May 23, 2023, in Lake Forest.

Shaw Local is counting down the top 25 most important Bears for the 2023 season.

What makes one player more important than another? That’s subjective, of course. But for our purposes it comes down to this: Are the Bears worse off if this player can’t play? Does this player have untapped potential or past greatness to live up to? Is his story going to be one fans follow closely this season?

The best player on the team isn’t always the most important, but he certainly can be. We will announce one player every day between now and the start of training camp.

No. 2 DJ Moore

Position: Wide receiver

NFL experience: Sixth season

Last year’s ranking: N/A

Looking back: The Bears had one of the worst receiving groups in the NFL in 2022. It resulted in the league’s worst passing attack in 11 years. The Bears totaled 130.5 passing yards per game, worst since the 2011 Jaguars. It didn’t help that Darnell Mooney missed five games with an ankle injury and Chase Claypool struggled to find a role after the team traded for him.

Meanwhile, 2018 first-round draft pick DJ Moore had another strong year with the Carolina Panthers. Despite more quarterback uncertainty, Moore totaled 888 yards and seven touchdowns on 63 catches. In his five-year NFL career, he has averaged more than 1,000 receiving yards per season.

When Bears general manager Ryan Poles shopped the first overall draft pick this spring, he made it no secret that a player could be part of that deal. He said as much at the NFL Scouting Combine in February. When Poles later sealed the deal, he traded the first overall pick to Carolina for Moore, the No. 9 overall pick, a 2023 second-round pick, a 2024 first-round pick and a 2025 second-round pick. Acquiring a potential No. 1 receiver for quarterback Justin Fields was a priority.

Looking forward: The early reviews during OTAs were good. The chemistry between Fields and Moore is already building. The Bears need more of that as training camp progresses. Moore should be Fields’ No. 1 outlet. When the QB doesn’t know who to turn to, Moore should be the receiver he looks for. The 26-year-old receiver has the ability to work in crowded areas, and he possesses the speed to go over the top of defenses.

The Bears’ passing game needs to make great strides in 2023. It’s not going to go from historically bad to No. 1 in the league, but even modest progress would go a long way toward creating more wins for the team. Moore needs to stay healthy, and he needs to have the ball in his hands. The Bears might still look to be a run-first offense, but Moore should give Fields a receiver he can trust in almost any situation. For much of last season, Fields didn’t have that. If Moore puts together another 1,000-yard season – as he did in 2019, 2020 and 2021 – the Bears are going to be cooking with fire.

In case you missed it: Previous installments of the top 25

Sean Hammond

Sean Hammond

Sean is the Chicago Bears beat reporter for the Shaw Local News Network. He has covered the Bears since 2020. Prior to writing about the Bears, he covered high school sports for the Northwest Herald and contributed to Friday Night Drive. Sean joined Shaw Media in 2016.