Skip to main content

Why Bears May Not Get Immediate Payback on Jaylon Johnson

Second-round cornerbacks often produce, but it's hardly common for them to come through in their rookie seasons

The selection of Utah's Jaylon Johnson with the 50th pick meant the Bears addressed their hole at right cornerback.

It did not necessarily mean they solved the problem for this season.

While second-round picks are consistently productive, they don't always step right in from Day 1.

In the five drafts from 2015-19, 28 cornerbacks were selected in the second round. Only nine of those second-round cornerbacks started as many as 10 games as rookies.

Five of those came in last year's draft, which was indeed a rarity. When two started at least 10 games in 2018, it was more than in each of the previous three classes.

So assuming the Bears will get Jaylon Johnson onto the field immediately this year and he'll take over the spot to go on to immediate greatness is wishful thinking.

Many second-round cornerbacks go on to become starters but the first year is never predictable.

In Johnson, the Bears believe they have a player capable of succeeding and not because he played their style of defense. He didn't. He came from a man-to-man and they lean heavily to zone.

"But you also saw there were some adjustable coverages where you saw him have to play some different schemes or some different techniques, so those are things you like," defensive backs coach Deshea Townsend said. "But the thing I liked was the ability that you saw a guy that played man(to-man) for most of his career, a guy who knew that if he got beat they probably were coming back. So you saw some of that mental toughness that you have to have in this league."

GM Ryan Pace saw a cornerback who made seven interceptions and 21 pass defenses in three seasons with Utah and appreciated the physical abilities.

"He's that physical, press corner that uses his size really well," Pace said. 'He uses his strength to his advantage, to re-route receivers.

"Jaylon is a really intelligent player, plays the game with excellent instincts and awareness. You can see it in the way he plays. And Jaylon’s another guy with outstanding football makeup, really high football character. This is a guy who is driven and passionate, a lot of stories about his work ethic and just his professional approach to the game."

The same was likely said about many of the second-round picks who failed to start as many as 10 games as a rookie.

The numbers say Johnson can eventually play in the NFL, but not necessarily from Day 1.

For that reason, Pace has a pair of veterans available for Day 1 in Artie Burns and Kevin Toliver II, and a highly respected CFL alum in Tre Roberson.

Defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano has already seen evidence veteran Pro Bowl cornerback Kyle Fuller will help bring along Johnson and fifth-round cornerback Kindle Vildor so they're ready faster.

"You know, Kyle talk about playing a deep third in this coverage concept, explain to Jaylon and Kindle the technique, the alignment, your stance, your key, your responsibility, what you do when they motion and create a bunch and create a stack—all those things," Pagano said.

Now it's a matter of how fast this teaching takes hold.

Scroll to Continue

Read More

Jaylon Johnson at a Glance

Utah  CB

Height: 6-foot

Weight: 193

Key Numbers: Johnson had a knack for corner blitzes with seven career sacks at Utah.

Opening Day Starting Chances: 2.5 on a 1-5 scale with 5 being the most.

2020 Projection: 10 starts, 2 INTs, 7 pass defenses.


Second-Round NFL Cornerbacks

(Since 2015)

10 Starts or More as Rookies

2019: 5 of 7 started at least 10 games

2018: 2 of 6 started at least 10

2017: None of the 5 started at least 10

2016: 1 of 5 started at least 10

2015: 1 of 5 started at least 10

Twitter: BearDigest@BearsOnMaven