Hub Arkush’s 2022 Bears training camp preview: Wide receivers

Chicago Bears wide receiver Darnell Mooney (11) gets past the Pittsburgh Steelers defense for a touchdown during the second half Monday, Nov. 8, 2021, in Pittsburgh.

Welcome to the third of our 12-part series as we get you ready for Bears Training Camp 2022 by looking at each position group on the depth chart, special teams and the new coaching staff.

We’ll bring you brief scouting reports with pluses and minuses for every notable player, how each group stacks up against the rest of the NFL, projected potential surprises and disappointments, the final 53-man roster and likely practice squad keepers.

Part 3 – Wide receivers

What this group lacks in quality it certainly more than makes up for in quantity, but the big question is are there five or six legitimate NFL pass catchers in the group?

Darnell Mooney

Mooney is the real deal and has established himself as a solid to high end NFL No. 2 wideout. He appears to have everything you’d want except size and now needs to maximize the special traits he has.

Biggest plus: He is a solid route runner with excellent short area quickness and almost always seems to be open.

Biggest concern: Mooney has elite speed but hasn’t figured out yet how to turn it into chunk plays and his drop rate is far too high to envision him as a No. 1.

Byron Pringle

A career backup, Pringle spent his rookie year on injured reserve in Kansas City and then three seasons as a backup with eight starts in three-wideout sets. He has nice size (6-1, 203) and solid speed at about 4.45 in the 40.

Biggest plus: He does appear to have a nose for the end zone with seven touchdowns on 67 career catches.

Biggest concern: Pringle is a career bottom-of-the-roster guy the Bears have penciled in as a starter.

Velus Jones Jr.

Jones’ traits are off the charts with a running back’s body, elite speed and multiple scouts’ comps to Deebo Samuel and A.J. Brown. He is also an extremely high-character kid with great maturity and leadership skills.

Biggest plus: Speed, toughness and want to.

Biggest concern: Struggled to get on the field at all in four years at USC, wasn’t a consistent starter and primary target until his second year at Tennessee and Bears are counting on him as a Week 1 starter.

Equanimeous St. Brown

St. Brown has excellent size, great speed for his size, a huge catch radius and is another solid presence in the locker room.

Biggest plus: St. Brown can be a matchup nightmare and gets more dangerous the further downfield he takes the route.

Biggest concern: Packers invested four year in him hoping he could be a solid No. 2 across from Davante Adams and he never became more than a No. 4 or 5.

Nsimba Webster

He is more a special-teams demon and bottom-of-the-roster guy than a wide receiver but does have some traits to be threat on the slot.

Biggest plus: Solid speed, quickness and work habits.

Biggest concern: Has shown no signs in three years in the league he can play the position.

Dazz Newsome

He’s interesting having complied an 1,100-yard season at North Carolina as a sophomore and as the No. 2 receiver, but stepped back as a junior before coming out early. He has average size and speed.

Biggest plus: Newsome is a very high-energy kid who was very productive at Carolina.

Biggest concern: His technique and route running need work.

Dante Pettis

Pettis was the 44th pick in the 2018 draft by the San Francisco 49ers. He’s a good athlete with nice size, but the Bears are his third. team in five seasons.

Biggest plus: Pettis is an accomplished route runner and has the tools to be a solid No. 2 or 3.

Biggest concern: A lack of physicality has always been a concern and has apparently held him back to this point.

Tajae Sharpe, David Moore, Isaiah Coulter, Chris Finke, Kevin Shaa

A rogues’ gallery of career backups and undrafted rookie free agents in which the Bears hope to strike gold at least once.

Sharpe actually has a solid rookie year in Tennessee in 2016, and Moore was a decent No. 3 or 4 in Seattle for three seasons.

The skinny

Where they fit in NFL: This may be the weakest group in the NFL. If not, it’s only because of Mooney, but it’s definitely in the bottom five.

Potential: It’s really hard to see Mooney as a No. 1, but if he improves his drop rate, he could be a top No. 2. Jones Jr. does bring some really interesting traits. But the position will still be a top priority heading into the 2023 season.

Surprises: The biggest surprise is that the Bears are comfortable going into the season with this group, rebuilding or not.

Disappointments: If these guys prove to be who they appear to be, Justin Fields could really struggle no mater how hard he works and how good he might be, and it could cause the Bears a dilemma with what to do at QB heading into the 2023 draft.

Outcome: Mooney, Pringle, Jones Jr., Newsome and St. Brown seem likely to make the 53 and Pettis is the best bet if they keep six.

In case you missed it: Previous installments of our 2022 season preview series

Hub Arkush

Hub Arkush

Hub Arkush was the Senior Bears Analyst for Shaw Local News Network and