Chicago Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson found himself in the team’s news cycle this week for less than ideal reasons. After running with the second team at OTAs, speculation about whether coach Matt Eberflus and general manager Ryan Poles viewed Johnson the same way Bears fans do — as a legitimate CB1 — ran wild.
Eberflus downplayed Johnson’s second-team status, suggesting that it was about getting the third-year cornerback up to speed with the defense (and conditioning). Johnson knows he has work to do to impress Chicago’s new coaching staff, too. And while running with the second team is an odd way to begin the coach-player relationship, it shouldn’t impact Johnson’s long-term outlook.
According to Pro Football Focus, Johnson remains one of Chicago’s top three players and a core piece of the Bears’ rebuild. Wide receiver Darnell Mooney and linebacker Roquan Smith are the other two.
It’s somewhat surprising that PFF views Johnson in this light. Their grades haven’t been kind to him during his first two seasons in the NFL. He scored a 54.9 as a rookie and improved to a 64.2 last year.
Numbers don’t tell the whole story, however. Johnson’s blend of size, length, and movement skills have translated well in the NFL and have his arrow pointing up as one of the top young cornerbacks in the NFC.