As the NFL season nears its halfway point, the talks regarding MVP, and offensive and defensive players of the year are beginning to heat up.
But for most Utah football fans, the one award they should be keeping a very close eye on should be the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year award. This is where former Ute Jaylon Johnson's name is being tossed around as one of the favorites for the award.
Johnson has been a star for the Bears ever since he was drafted in the second round this past April.
He became the first Bears rookie cornerback to start a season-opener since Walt Harris in the 1996-97 season. And it's safe to say Johnson's debut was a success as he broke up the game-winning touchdown with no time left, helping Chicago to a 27-23 victory over the Detroit Lions.
"The other part I like about him is I'm rousing him all the time in the building," Chicago head coach Matt Nagy said. "You can see his confidence that he has. You have to have short-term memory in this league. He's got extreme confidence. And it's not cocky. It's confidence. I like that about him."
According to Pro Football Focus, Johnson leads all NFL rookie cornerbacks with 10 passes defended, picking up another one on Monday night against the Los Angeles Rams, saving a touchdown in the process
On the season, Johnson has just 22 tackles — but he's proven himself the ability to come up strong in run support. Of his 22 tackles, 17 of them have come of the solo variety.
No Ute has ever won the defensive rookie of the year award, but Johnson is firmly in the running with DE Chase Young (Washington), S Antoine Winfield (Tampa Bay) and LB Patrick Queen (Baltimore). Of those players, Johnson, Winfield and Queen are playing for winning teams and have helped their teams to the upper echelon of football. All three of those players were chosen ahead of Johnson in the draft.
Johnson and the Bears return to action on Sunday when they host the New Orleans Saints. Kickoff is set for 2:25 p.m. MST and will air on FOX.
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