Jaylon Johnson is the Chicago Bears’ star cornerback and has stepped up as a leader on the defense following the departure of Khalil Mack, Robert Quinn, and Roquan Smith. Johnson was drafted out of the University of Utah with the 50th pick of the 2022 NFL Draft. He has grown as a player over the past three seasons and become an integral part of the Bears’ secondary.
College Career – University of Utah:
Johnson was a standout player on the Utes’ defense throughout his career. From 2017 to 2019, Johnson played in 38 games with 29 career starts. Johnson had his breakout season in 2018, recording 41 tackles, four interceptions, and a touchdown. He returned for his junior season, starting 13 games. Throughout his career at Utah, Johnson had seven interceptions, 28 passes defended, and 21 pass breakups. During the 2018 and 2019 season, Johnson was named First-Team All Pac-12.
Professional Career – Chicago Bears:
His rookie season, Johnson was the Bears’ second cornerback behind Kyle Fuller. Johnson played a total of 13 games before a shoulder injury sidelined him the last three games. He recorded 44 total tackles and 15 passes defended. Johnson became the top cornerback after Fuller was released in 2021 and played 15 games. He had his first career interception against Joe Burrow of the Cincinnati Bengals early in the season, and ended the season with 46 total tackles and one forced fumble. When Matt Eberflus took over before the 2022 season, the defense shifted to a 4-3 scheme. Due to injury, Johnson only played 11 games, but still managed 35 total tackles, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery. Johnson admits it took him a while to embrace Eberflus’ style, but once he did Johnson was able to step up as a leader and fill the shoes of those from the 2018 defense who had since left.
Johnson has had ups and downs throughout his career, but he is overall a solid cornerback and has the potential to keep growing. The biggest downside to Johnson is that he is injury prone. His shoulder injury from Utah is still a question, as he hasn’t been able to finish a full NFL season. With his rookie contract ending after the 2023 season, resigning Johnson would be a great move for general manager Ryan Poles and would help push the Bears’ defense into a new era.