When former University of Utah cornerback Jaylon Johnson was taken in the second round (50th overall) in the NFL draft last spring by the Chicago Bears, many Utah fans felt that was too low.

Then as the 2020 NFL season began and it became apparent Johnson would end up starting as a rookie once Chicago’s Artie Burns tore his ACL in August, many Bears fans were nervous about Johnson being in such a prominent spot as a rookie.

Through six games, Johnson is proving Ute fans correct, and by a wide margin. Not only has he been impressive by rookie standards, but he’s third in the entire NFL in passes defended with nine (a defended pass is defined as “a pass caused incomplete, by contact with the football).

The New York Giants’ James Bradberry and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Carlton Davis each have 10, while three players have eight.

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Elsewhere, Pro Football Focus has graded Johnson’s former Ute teammate Julian Blackmon of the Indianapolis Colts as the highest-rated rookie safety in the entire NFL so far and 10th-highest safety overall. Blackmon most recently came up with a clutch interception against the No. 1 pick in the draft Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.

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