A popular series from last draft cycle is returning yet again at Stampede Blue. Last offseason, I interviewed over 40 prospects that could eventually be fits for the Indianapolis Colts in the 2019 NFL Draft. As a result, we were able to find out a lot about two Colts who went on to eventually be drafted by the team in Marvell Tell III and Khari Willis. This year I hope to interview even more prospects so you all can get an inside look at these players’ accomplishments and mindsets going into this next draft.
Our next prospect is wide receiver Darnell Mooney from Tulane. Mooney was flying under the radar a bit this draft cycle until he ran a blazing 4.38 40 yard dash. We had an excellent conversation about his great combine performance, how to stack defensive backs on vertical routes, and who he looks up to in the NFL.
5’11” 176 pounds
48 catches for 713 yards and 5 touchdowns
40 Yard Dash: 4.38 seconds / Vert Jump: 37 inches / Broad Jump: 124 inches
Fit with the Colts:
The Colts desperately need help at the wide receiver position. With injuries and just inexperienced players forced into playing time, the WR core just wasn’t up to par in 2019. While Mooney may not be the answer to solve all the problems, he can certainly help. With his excellent deep speed and burst, he could be a major asset in the vertical passing game. He also knows how to switch it up and bit as he is smooth in his underneath routes as well. He may not be a top of the rotation player early on but it is always nice to have a fluid speedster at the bottom of the WR depth chart.
Early-Mid Day 3
Tulane WR and return man Darnell Mooney is a playmaker. @deemason85 put me on to him a couple of weeks ago. He ran a 4.38 at the combine. Mooney avg 20 YPC last season and is a specialist at taking a slant to the house. Here's a cutup after I watched him vs FIU. #Titans pic.twitter.com/yzYNJeYseS— TURRON DAVENPORT (@TDavenport_NFL) March 3, 2020
Darnell Mooney is good at football.— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) June 15, 2019
- Pads over knees
- Accelerates forward to get on DBs toes
- Sells our breaking route with head swivel and sharp footwork
- Cuts back in efficiently once CBs hips are turned
- Catches ball away from body
- Turns on the jets pic.twitter.com/Nifsvcm5i5
ZH: You have come a long way from your beginning at Tulane. I read that you were a 2 Star athlete who was one of their last offers the year you were recruited. How does it feel to come this far from that to an NFL Draft prospect now?
DM: It feels good. I feel like I’ve always had a good mindset with myself and where I put myself. Things have been hard since the beginning but you know I don’t think anything different. I just go in thinking everything is going to be hard and then I just go from there.
ZH: How did it feel to not only get the combine invite but also really make a name for yourself with a big performance there?
DM: It felt pretty normal to me to be honest. I always had it in my expectations to do good and I was just honored to have the opportunity to showcase that in front of the guys that needed to see it and just have fun doing it.
ZH: How was the off field portion of the week for you? Obviously you can prepare for the drills and such but how did the meetings with teams go for you throughout the week?
DM: Interviewing was pretty chill. I got an opportunity at the NFLPA Bowl to see how things went before all that so it was kind of similar things with those meetings and just learning how to tell your story. The only thing that I could say was different was just the walking around. The mental aspect of it was different as they were trying to see how you work in creative situations.
ZH: So your speed is the first thing that pops out on film but I was really impressed by how smooth of a route runner you are. Was that something you were always good at or something you developed over time and really worked on?
DM: I definitely developed it over time. When everybody got here my freshman year for summer workouts and such, I wasn’t able to do all that so I was just at home working out by myself and YouTube and social media was my best friend, just watching other guys run routes. When I got here, I was able to work on it more and improve from there. I took some lessons from the older guys who had a great receiver coach from before and continued to work on those little things before I got good at it.
ZH: What would you say is the most important trait or aspect of route running in your opinion?
DM: Can’t be too tight, you have to be a little loose. You have to be creative as well and be able to stop on a dime. Just have to be able to manipulate the corner on your routes. Just to be able to go in and out and fool the cornerback on any play can solidify yourself as a great route runner.
ZH: Most people see vertical routes and think that it’s just all speed when it comes to winning but it is a lot more than that. Can you walk me through the steps in the process when it comes to winning vertically?
DM: Once you beat him off the line with a good release, you have to try and stack him. If you can’t stack him, at least stay on your line and be strong. He’s going to try and grab you so you have to try and knock his hand down and hand fight with him until the ball comes. When the ball comes, you have to fall in love with the ball. The ball is your girlfriend, your wife. You don’t want anybody grabbing your girlfriend or wife so you gotta go up there and get it.
ZH: That is a great way to put it haha. So when you watch the NFL game, are there certain guys that you try to model your game after or try to take little things from to improve your game?
DM: I like Adam Thielen, he’s a great route runner and Jarvis Landry. I’m not as physical as Landry but the process is coming and I will be.
ZH: Final question for you. Some people are calling this the greatest WR draft of all time and names like that. I just want to know how do you stand out in this class? What am I getting if I spend a draft pick on Darnell Mooney?
DM: First off, you won’t be getting a risk if you draft me. You’ll be able to look at that draft board at the end of the draft, you’ll see my name and you’ll see Darnell and know this guy is going to come in and give us a lot. A lot to offer to the team whether it is just helping some guys out or making plays on the football field. Off the field, you don’t have to worry about me at all. I’m a homebody. I sit around, chill, play games, and listen to music. You’ll just be getting a helluva football player that you won’t have to worry about off the field.