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NFL mock draft roundup: See where two analysts predict Utah’s Jaylon Johnson will slide into the 1st round

Utah Utes defensive back Jaylon Johnson (1) makes a tackle on Colorado Buffaloes wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. (2) during the first half of an NCAA football game at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019.
Colter Peterson, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — It’s been three years since Utah last had a first-round NFL draft pick — when offensive tackle Garett Bolles was taken No. 20 overall by the Denver Broncos in 2017 — but it’s been much longer since a former Ute defensive back was a first-round selection.

Try 1971, when Norm Thompson was taken with the 17th overall pick by the St. Louis Cardinals, becoming the second Utah player ever selected in the first round. It’s the only time a former Ute defensive back has gone in the first round.

This year, the Utes have a strong contingent of draftable players — they sent a school-record nine players, including eight defenders — to February’s NFL scouting combine. Of those, cornerback Jaylon Johnson may have the best chance to slip into the latter part of the first round, though most prognosticators foresee Utah’s first player coming off the board in the draft’s second day, during the second or third round.

Something that could factor into Johnson’s draft stock is the fact he underwent surgery last month, after participating in the combine, to repair a torn labrum he played through in 2019, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported.

“He wanted to play for his team last season and not let them down. The guy’s tough as nails for fighting through that the whole year, and he wanted to compete at the combine at the highest level,” Doug Hendrickson, one of Johnson’s agents, told Pelissero.

Two recent post-free agency mock drafts, though, have the former Utes standout hearing his name during the first day of the draft, which is scheduled for April 23-25.

Pro Football Focus’ Michael Renner has Johnson going 25th overall to Minnesota in his latest post-free agency mock draft released Wednesday.

“Johnson has the all-around type of skill set and instincts that can succeed in (Vikings coach Mike) Zimmer’s defense. He’s earned a 90.1 coverage grade over the past two seasons,” Renner wrote.

Johnson declared early for the draft, after earning second-team All-America honors from The Associated Press, Walter Camp, Sports Illustrated, and USA Today following his junior season. The three-year starter had 36 tackles, a career-best 13 pass deflections, and two interceptions in 2019.

Johnson isn’t the first Utah tie going off the board in Renner’s mock draft — that’s Utah State’s Jordan Love, widely seen as the first local to be drafted this year. He has Love going to New England at No. 23, where the Patriots are moving on after Tom Brady left the franchise after 20 years.

Athlon Sports’ Bryan Fischer had Johnson going even higher in his mock draft released Wednesday, at No. 19 to the Las Vegas Raiders.

“Even with Eli Apple and Jeff Heath among others in the fold, Johnson gives them a youthful option that can play both inside and outside against some of the potent offenses they face,” Fischer wrote.

Love is a late first-round selection in Fischer’s mock draft, going 30th overall to Green Bay to back up Aaron Rodgers.

Pro Football Focus has Johnson rated the No. 28 overall prospect on its big board for the 2020 NFL Draft. “With Johnson’s feistiness and feel for the position, he possesses one of the highest floors in the class. It’s difficult to think someone with his instincts will fail,” his PFF profile reads.

Three other Utes land in the top 100 of the Pro Football Focus big board, including Utah safety Terrell Burgess at No. 58, Utah running back Zack Moss at No. 74, and Utah defensive end Bradlee Anae at No. 91. Love is 76th: “Even in his best year back in 2018, there’s still a ton on tape that needs to be cleaned up,” his profile reads.

Johnson is ranked fourth among cornerback prospects on ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr.’s latest big board and best 10 at every position.

Another Utah player that’s shown up in the first round of mock drafts is Burgess. On Thursday, NFL.com draft analyst Chad Reuter released his latest mock and had the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs taking Burgess with the final selection, No. 32, of the first round.

“Burgess is considered a safety by many, but I think he could play in the slot and even outside if given the chance. The Chiefs could use help at both spots,” Reuter wrote.

Locals in the latest 2020 NFL first-round mock drafts

Athlon Sports, Bryan Fischer

Overall pick, Player, Pos., School, Team

  • No. 19, Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah, Las Vegas Raiders
  • No. 30, Jordan Love, QB, Utah State, Green Bay Packers

CBS Sports, Pete Prisco

  • No. 20, Jordan Love, QB, Utah State, Jacksonville Jaguars

Denver Post, Ryan O’Halloran

  • No locals selected

ESPN, Mel Kiper Jr.

  • No. 23, Jordan Love, QB, Utah State, New England Patriots

NBC Sports, Dalton Johnson and Josh Schrock

  • No. 14, Jordan Love, QB, Utah State, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFL.com, Charley Casserly

  • No locals selected

Pro Football Focus, Michael Renner

  • No. 23, Jordan Love, QB, Utah State, New England Patriots
  • No. 25, Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah, Minnesota Vikings

The Detroit News, Justin Rogers

  • No. 23, Jordan Love, QB, Utah State, New England Patriots

Locals in the latest 2020 NFL multi-round mock drafts

CBS Sports, Josh Edwards (seven rounds)

Overall pick, Player, Pos., School, Team

Second round

  • No. 36, Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah, New York Giants
  • No. 42, Jordan Love, QB, Utah State, Jacksonville Jaguars

Third round

  • No. 85, Terrell Burgess, S, Utah, Detroit Lions
  • No. 93, Zack Moss, RB, Utah, Tennessee Titans
  • No. 95, Bradlee Anae, DE, Denver Broncos

Fourth round

  • No. 123, Julian Blackmon, S, Utah, Dallas Cowboys

Fifth round

  • No. 155, Leki Fotu, DT, Utah, Minnesota Vikings
  • No. 168, Francis Bernard, LB, Philadelphia Eagles

Sixth round

  • No. 191, David Woodward, LB, Utah State, New York Jets

Seventh round

  • No. 224, Dominik Eberle, K, Utah State, Tennessee Titans

NFL.com, Chad Reuter (four rounds)

First round

  • No. 23 (via trade), Jordan Love, QB, Utah State, Los Angeles Chargers
  • No. 32, Terrell Burgess, S, Utah, Kansas City Chiefs

Second round

  • No. 38 (via trade), Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah, New Orleans Saints
  • No. 49, Bradlee Anae, DE, Utah, Pittsburgh Steelers

Third round

  • No. 77 (via trade), Leki Fotu, DT, Utah, Arizona Cardinals
  • No. 85, Zack Moss, RB, Utah, Detroit Lions

Walter Football (six rounds)

Second round

  • No. 45, Jordan Love, QB, Utah State, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Third round

  • No. 76, Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • No. 85, Bradlee Anae, DE, Utah, Philadelphia Eagles
  • No. 86, Zack Moss, RB, Utah, Buffalo Bills

Fourth round

  • No. 114, David Woodward, LB, Utah State, Arizona Cardinals

Fifth round

  • No. 171, Branden Bowen, OT/G, Corner Canyon High (Ohio State), Houston Texans

Yahoo Sports, Eric Edholm (two rounds)

First round

  • No. 20, Jordan Love, QB, Utah State, Jacksonville Jaguars

Second round

  • No. 64, Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah, Seattle Seahawks