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Darnell Mooney

Mooney looks like sleeper for Falcons

I’m optimistic about Atlanta’s wide receivers. Specifically, Darnell Mooney. With a new offense and a new quarterback, I think they’ll be looking to that position a lot more than they have in the past.

The Falcons also have Drake London and Kyle Pitts, of course, and both of those guys should be catching more passes and touchdowns this year. (I see London as the team’s top option.) But with Mooney having not done all that much the last two years, I think he looks more likely to be wildly underrated in drafts.

Picked in the fifth round in 2020, Mooney has already shown he can play. He caught 81 passes for 1,055 yards and 5 TDs in his second season despite playing in a modest offense. He suffered an ankle injury early the next year but came back to catch 36 passes in his final eight games (for a team that ranked last in passing).

While Mooney didn’t do much of anything last year, the Falcons saw him as a player to go after. They signed him early in free agency to a three-year deal worth $39 million, with two thirds of the money guaranteed. He’ll be starting alongside Drake and Pitts, and he’s faster than either of them.

The Falcons have averaged only 197 passing yards over the last two years, with only 17 TD passes in both of them, but it’s a different offense now. They signed Kirk Cousins and traded for Michael Penix, and they’ve got a coaching that’s more willing to push the ball downfield.

Under Arthur Smith, too many of the passes were going to backs and tight ends. There will be more of an emphasis on getting the ball to wide receivers now.

In the 32-team era, only 13 teams have had wide receivers accounted for every than 40 percent of their completions. Only four of those teams got the ball to their wide receivers less often than the Falcons did lat year.

RECEIVERS CATCHING LESS THAN 40% OF PASSES
YearTeamWRTotPct
2011Baltimore11531436.6%
2013New Orleans16444636.8%
2008Oakland8222236.9%
2019Philadelphia14639137.3%
2023Atlanta12432737.9%
2015Tennessee13034238.0%
2009Oakland9925538.8%
2003Baltimore8521739.2%
2008Cleveland9423839.5%
2019Las Vegas14536739.5%
2019Baltimore11528939.8%
2017Buffalo11528939.8%
2010Detroit15338339.9%

—Ian Allan

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