Chicago Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson has had an interesting offseason, to say the least. Questions about the third-year pro’s status on the team arose after coach Matt Eberflus relegated him to the second team at minicamp. It was a surprise to Bears fans who view Johnson as one of the cornerstone players on defense.
Eberflus downplayed Johnson playing with second-teamers. He suggested it was a decision based on conditioning and familiarity with the defense. Remember: Johnson hadn’t participated in much of the offseason program prior to minicamp. He was playing catch-up. And rather than have him learn on the fly with ‘starters,’ it’s better to experience that curve with some backups.
Despite offseason drama, Jaylon Johnson remains one of the NFL’s top cornerbacks
One bizarre minicamp doesn’t change Johnson’s standing in league circles, however. Pro Football Focus recently published a ranking of the NFL’s top cornerbacks, and Jaylon Johnson checked in among the up-and-comers at No. 28.
“Mild panic set in once the media saw Johnson running with the second-team unit during OTAs, but head coach Matt Eberflus said it was nothing to look too much into,” PFF’s Anthony Treash wrote. “Johnson has already shown enough for his ceiling to be a true CB1. Despite snagging just one interception since entering the league in 2020, the 6-foot, 195-pound cornerback ranks eighth in forced incompletion rate (15.3%) since then. If Johnson can reel in his occasional over-aggressiveness, he can significantly climb these rankings.”
Johnson will have more opportunities to make plays on the ball in 2022 with the addition of rookie Kyler Gordon. Opposing quarterbacks won’t be able to avoid Johnson as easily as they did in 2021. Now, with an equally talented cornerback in the lineup, Johnson should see more targets. As a result, more interceptions should come, too.
We’ll look back at this weird minicamp drama a few months from now and wonder what all the fuss was about. Johnson is one of a handful of Chicago Bears players who are a priority to keep around during the team’s massive rebuild. And if Johnson has a breakout year in 2022, he’ll break the bank in 2023.
Bryan is the founder and managing editor of Bears Talk. His previous stops include Bears coverage for NBC Sports Chicago and USA Today. His NFL Draft and Bears coverage has also been featured on The Draft Network.