The Bears badly needed a cornerback that has the capability of starting right away and Jaylon Johnson has a chance to do exactly that. The Utah cornerback got on the field early as a freshman and became a two-year starter before skipping his team’s bowl game this past season and declaring for the draft. At 5-11, 193 pounds with a 74 3/8 wingspan, Johnson has ideal NFL size and could have been a first round pick if not for lingering shoulder issues.
Strengths: Johnson has outstanding ball skills and great feet to move smoothly in tight coverage. His long arms pop on the tape, especially in man-to-man coverage. He tracks the ball in flight and delivered seven interceptions in his college career, returning two for touchdowns. Johnson has the speed to close and recover. He’s a very competitive player and not afraid to come up in run support. Against USC in 2019, Michael Pittman essentially avoided Johnson's side and did his damage against other defenders. Though Johnson played on the left side of Utah's defense the majority of the time, he started to shadow opposing No. 1 wideouts mid-way through the 2019 season and showed he could play both sides in the Pac 12 title game. As a bonus, he’s young, having just turned 21 earlier this week.
Weaknesses: Johnson takes chances and sometimes he gets burned as a result. Penalties have been an issue. Three shoulder surgeries, including one after the Combine are a concern, but also contributed to him being available to the Bears at No. 50.
Ryan Pace's take: “Jaylon has a really good combination of size, athleticism and awareness. He’s that physical, press corner that uses his size really well. 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, and 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. (There are) a lot of stories about his work ethic and just his professional approach to the game. So we feel real strong about the physical talent but also the makeup."
The quote: Johnson on falling out of the first round: "I'm going to go out and show who I am, what I could've been bringing (to those teams) and really just (appreciate) the team that did pick me and show love to them. I'm going to give them all I got in practice and in any way they need me. But that's what I'm going to do -- all I can to make teams regret the decision."