See where Bears’ 2020 rookie class ranked among rest of the NFL

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Alyssa Barbieri
·2 min read
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One of the encouraging things to come out of the Chicago Bears’ disappointing 2020 season was the performance of several rookies, who have bright futures ahead of them. Which was made all the more impressive given they were without a first-round draft pick for the second straight year.

NFL.com ranked the rookie classes around the league, and the Bears landed at No. 17, which had to do with the performances of receiver Darnell Mooney, cornerback Jaylon Johnson, and tight end Cole Kmet.

Tight ends typically transition slowly to the NFL. So the experience Kmet gained in playing a full season — and starting nine games — shouldn’t be overlooked. Seven picks after Kmet, Pace nabbed a Day 1 starter in Johnson. The cornerback missed the final four games of the season (including the wild-card loss at New Orleans) with a shoulder injury, but before that, he gave Bears fans plenty to be excited about. The 6-foot, 195-pound CB had some struggles in zone coverage, but he was a physical force in man-to-man and tied for fifth in the NFL with 15 pass breakups, including a game-clincher in Detroit. Johnson and Kyle Fuller could be one of the better CB tandems in the NFL in 2021.

The best bang for the buck came at pick No. 173, where Chicago grabbed the fleet-footed Mooney. Despite being the 24th wide receiver off the board, Mooney racked up 61 catches for 631 yards and four touchdowns. A true deep threat who brings saucy route-running and aerial acrobatics, Mooney has the tools to beat the NFL’s best cover men. I mean, look at what he did to Jalen Ramsey. (Yes, the ball was overthrown. No, I don’t care.)

As NFL.com noted, the Bears’ biggest steal in the draft was Mooney, who they nabbed in the fifth round and played a huge part on offense. He impressed early during training camp and quickly became Chicago’s No. 2 wideout behind Allen Robinson, impressing with his speed, route running, and maturity.

Johnson was another underrated player that quickly developed into a starter for the Bears. While he certainly had his rookie moments, he was a physical defender that tied for the fifth-most pass breakups in 2020 — and that included missing the final three regular-season games. He was the seventh cornerback taken in the NFL Draft, and he outperformed those taken ahead of him.

It’s no secret that tight ends take a little longer to develop in the NFL, which was certainly the case for Chicago’s top draft selection. While Kmet didn’t have a flashy rookie season, he flashed some potential as an in-line blocker and receiving tight end.

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Grading the Chicago Bears' 2020 rookie draft class