LAKE FOREST – Darnell Mooney is hyped for Velus Jones Jr.
The third-year Bears receiver brought up the rookie out of Tennessee unprompted earlier this week during a media session at Halas Hall.
“There’s a lot of guys that are going to bring some good things to the table,” Mooney said. “One guy, Velus, man, when he gets the ball, y’all are going to see. He can fly. He can be a playmaker, for sure, for us.”
The Bears obviously liked Jones coming out of Tennessee or they wouldn’t have drafted him with the 71st overall pick earlier this spring. But liking a player on tape and actually seeing him in person are two different things.
Quarterback Justin Fields said Jones’ ability to pick up yards after the catch is what has immediately stood out this spring. At 6-foot, 200 pounds, Jones is built quite thick compared to some of his lighter teammates at wide receiver.
The Bears plan to utilize that body in various ways this season. It’s not hard to envision Jones moving around the field in a similar manner to what Deebo Samuel does for the 49ers. The Bears are implementing that same Kyle Shanahan-style run blocking scheme under new offensive coordinator Luke Getsy.
“I’ve been moving around quite a bit, especially in the OTA period,” Jones said. “I had a good amount of balls thrown my way. That’s just boosted my confidence level in this offense as I continue to work on that. That’s a good feeling.”
The Bears wrapped up veteran minicamp Thursday. Their spring practice period is now over. The players will go their separate ways for about 40 days until training camp begins in late July.
Jones has had a chance to get his feet wet this spring, a taste of what training camp will be like. Jones’ locker is set up right next to Fields’. The two young offensive weapons will be key figures for the Bears in the coming years. Building that relationship and rapport early on was an important first step.
“I feel like that’s part of the connection as well, knowing who your quarterback is outside of football,” Jones said. “That makes things much easier when I go to practice as well. He’s depending on me.”
Jones said he hopes to head to Atlanta sometime in the next few weeks to work with Fields and Mooney. Fields and Mooney spent some time throwing together earlier in the offseason.
Much like they have on the offensive line, the Bears have given just about every receiver a chance at first-team reps during the spring. But once the coaching staff narrows down the depth chart a bit more, Jones is likely to be in the starting lineup. Mooney is the only unquestioned, surefire starter at this point. Byron Pringle is probably the No. 2 option after Mooney, but Jones could be the most versatile of the bunch.
“The more he can do, the more, obviously, he’ll have a chance to play,” wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert said. “So we’re going to throw it all at him and see what he soaks in and, hopefully, he’ll get out there and make some plays for us.”
The Bears certainly hope so.