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With one season in the books for the Chicago Bears’ 2020 rookie class, it’s safe to say GM Ryan Pace did a good job adding quality young players to a roster that needs it.
The Bears were without a first-round pick for the second consecutive year because of the 2018 trade for Khalil Mack that sent their 2019 and 2020 first-rounders to the Las Vegas Raiders, but Chicago’s selections in Round 2 (No.s 43 and 50) paid big dividends.
Pace used the first of those two picks on Notre Dame tight end Cole Kmet, who emerged late in the season as a viable playmaker in the passing game with an arrow that’s pointing straight up. The second second-rounder, cornerback Jaylon Johnson, was at times the best rookie defender in the NFL and while he went through some peaks and valleys like any first-year player, he proved he has lockdown cornerback ability.
And that’s what makes ESPN’s 2020 re-draft a little odd.
At pick 43, the Bears stick with Kmet. But at pick 50, the Bears pass on Johnson and instead select Darnell Mooney, the standout rookie receiver they selected in the fifth round.
Does this mean ESPN thinks Johnson didn’t play like a top-50 player, yet Mooney did? So, just swap them? It makes no sense.
Instead, the Bears should be credited with a fantastic draft haul with the Mooney pick highlighted as one of the biggest steals of the entire 2020 draft. Just because Mooney was a steal doesn’t mean the Bears, if given a chance to do the draft over again, would say ‘no thanks’ to Johnson.
Finding quality starting cornerbacks is more difficult than finding productive receivers in today’s NFL. Johnson was the right pick last April, and he’d be the right pick in any draft do-over regardless of the upside Mooney showed in 2020.