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Bears take Utes’ Johnson in Round 2 of NFL draft; Blackmon, Moss and Burgess go in third round

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah football player Jaylon Johnson was selected by the Chicago Bears in the second round of the NFL draft on Friday, April 24, 2020.

Jaylon Johnson is not going to forget the 49 chances teams had to select him in the NFL draft between Thursday and Friday.

Such is the chip on the shoulder of a prospect who believes he is a first-round talent, but falls to the second round, or even lower. Once the dust settled, it took a little longer than Johnson expected, but the University of Utah All-American cornerback is indeed a pro.

After going unpicked during Thursday night’s first round, the Chicago Bears pulled the trigger on Friday evening, selecting Johnson in the second round with the 50th overall pick.

Johnson was one of four Utes selected on Friday during the second and third rounds. Sandwiched around Utah’s all-time leading rusher, Zack Moss, going in the third round at No. 86 overall by the Buffalo Bills, Utes defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley saw two more members of his vaunted secondary get picked. All-American safety Julian Blackmon went one pick before Moss at No. 85 to the Indianapolis Colts and two-time All-Pac-12 safety Terrell Burgess went to the Los Angeles Rams at No. 104 overall.

According to the NFL rookie pay scale for the 2020 season, as the 50th overall pick, Johnson can sign a four-year deal worth $6.49 million, which includes a signing bonus of $2.26 million.

“Definitely, as a competitor and with the expectations I have for myself, of course I expected to go a lot higher,” Johnson said Friday night on a conference call with reporters. “To me, this moment is big, a once-in-a-lifetime moment. You only go through this once. At the end of the day, I’m going to go out and show what I could’ve been for any team that selected me.

“I’m going to do all I can to make teams regret their decision.”

Johnson played the entire 2019 season with a shoulder injury, a revelation that came to light on Feb. 24, but he was able to participate in all events at the NFL scouting combine. He had surgery to repair a torn right labrum on March 4.

A recovery timeline of 4-5 months has held firm, Johnson and his agent, Doug Hendrickson of Wasserman, told The Salt Lake Tribune last week as pre-draft preparations began coming to a close. If the NFL calendar remains unchanged, far from a certainty given COVID-19 pandemic concerns, Johnson should be healthy and ready to go for his first NFL training camp beginning in late July.

Blackmon’s third-round selection came as a mild surprise given he had a draft projection between the fourth and fifth rounds. The Layton High School graduate was twice an All-Pac-12 selection at cornerback in 2017 and 2018, but blew up last season as a senior after moving to free safety. Blackmon finished 2019 with four interceptions and nine for his career.

Moss, last season’s Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year after rushing for 1,416 yards and 16 touchdowns, was projected as a likely second-day pick, but was selected after a handful of running backs he was predicted to go before. Moss was ultimately the eighth running back taken on Friday night between the second and third rounds.

While Blackmon’s third-round selection was the pleasant surprise of Utah’s night given his third-day projection, defensive end Bradlee Anae sliding out of the third round entirely was the primary disappointment.

With four Utah players getting selected Friday night, matching the program record of eight selections in a single draft (2017) is still doable. The draft will conclude Saturday with rounds 4-7, with Anae, defensive tackles Leki Fotu and John Penisini, linebacker Francis Bernard, cornerback Javelin Guidry and quarterback Tyler Huntley among the potential selections.

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