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Bears Defensive Backs Highlighted In PFF’s Latest Rankings

With two Chicago Bears defensive backs making PFF's cornerback/safety rankings, creating interceptions on defense shouldn't be a problem.
bears defensive backs

Playing as a defensive back (DB) is arguably the most demanding position in the league. DBs are usually the center of blame rather than praise. However, having top-tier defensive backs is crucial for becoming an NFL contender. The Chicago Bears happen to have two defensive backs who were recently ranked in Pro Football Focus’ top 32 safety and cornerback rankings.

Bears Defensive Backs Highlighted In PFF’s New Rankings

Analysis of the Two Bears Defensive Backs

Jaylon Johnson ranked 5th among cornerbacks. He rose to stardom last season, earning 2nd Team All-Pro honors and his first Pro Bowl selection. Johnson was the Bears top defensive player last season, effortlessly locking down opposing receivers. According to PFF, he was the highest-graded corner in coverage with a 91.0 rating and allowed the lowest passer rating. Johnson bet on himself last season, which resulted in a massive contract. Over the offseason, he signed a four-year, $76 million extension.

Newly acquired free safety Kevin Byard ranked 12th among safeties. The veteran remains one of the best safeties in the league, earning a 70.0-plus coverage grade in all but two seasons before 2023. According to PFF, Byard has a 91.9 overall grade since entering the league and ranks second in run defense, just behind Antoine Winfield Jr. However, Byard had a down year last season with the Eagles and Titans, partly due to defensive inefficiencies from the Eagles play-callers. Joining a defense loaded with talent, Byard should bounce back and have a strong season.

Do the Bears Defensive Backs Deserve a Higher Ranking?

Jaylon Johnson unquestionably deserves a higher ranking. Here’s the list of corners ranked ahead of him in order: Sauce Gardner, Trent McDuffie, Charvarius Ward, and Pat Surtain II. Besides Gardner, there’s little justification for Johnson not being ranked higher. According to Pro Football Impact, Johnson had the highest CB impact rating at 98.00. The next highest player on the list was Gardner, at 93.32.

On the flip side, there’s a case to be made for Kevin Byard as a top-10 safety, but his rating was fair. It’s hard to see Byard being ranked ahead of the top 10 safeties due to their dominance on the field. Despite years of being one of the best safeties, Byard experienced a downturn last season, which can’t be overlooked. He still needs to prove he’s an elite safety next season.


Both Johnson and Byard are expected to be huge contributors on defense next season for the Bears. Johnson is looking to build off his stellar year and is ready to prove that last season wasn’t just luck.

“I feel like people still don’t think I’m good enough. I want to be able to have that yellow jacket.”

The Bears were fast to sign Byard, which was questionable at the time. Replacing a 30-year-old Eddie Jackson with a 30-year-old Kevin Byard might be a short-term solution, but it should benefit the rest of the team. Byard provides experience and mentorship to the team and should regain form next season.

Related News: Two Bears Linebackers Rank High In PFF’s Top 32 LB Rankings

Main Image: Jeffrey Becker – USA Today Sports


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