It was a record-breaking night for the Utah football program on Friday as four players were selected through the first three rounds. This broke the previous record set in 2015 when the Utes had three players selected (Rowe, Orchard, Poutasi).
Jaylon Johnson was the first Utah player taken as the All-American was selected by the Chicago Bears with the 50th pick in the second round. Julian Blackmon and Zack Moss went back-to-back in the third round (85th, 86th) with the Indianapolis Colts selecting Blackmon, and the Buffalo Bills taking Moss. Terrell Burgess closed the night out as the Los Angeles Rams selected the 5-foot-11, 202-pound safety in the third round with the 104th pick.
On Saturday, three more players were taken with Leki Fotu, Bradlee Anae and John Penisini going in the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds. Fotu went to the Arizona Cardinals (114th), Anae went to the Dallas Cowboys (179th) and Penisini was drafted by the Detroit Lions (197th).
In the past two years, the Utes have had 12 players drafted and 21 selected in the past four years. This is the most in program history over a two-year and four-year period. Utah’s 21 draft picks in the past four years are also the most in the Pac-12 with Washington coming in second with 20.
Here’s a breakdown of all the picks.
Jaylon Johnson (2nd Round, 50th pick)
Jaylon Johnson was selected by the Chicago Bears with the 50th overall pick in the second round of the 2020 NFL draft. The two-time first-team All-Pac-12 player was the seventh corner to be taken in this year’s draft. Several analysts had Johnson as the third best corner in this year’s draft.
The fact that the Bears were able to get him late in the second round is a huge steal for the franchise. With the addition of Johnson, the Bears address a big hole in the secondary vacated by Prince Amukamara. The 6-foot 193-pound junior joins a talented Bears defense that allowed just 18.6 points a game last season.
In his three years at Utah, Johnson had 102 tackles, 28 passes defended, seven interceptions and two touchdowns. He also finished his career with 28 passes defended with 21 pass breakups to finish tied for 10th all-time at Utah. According to Pro Football Focus, Johnson allowed just three touchdowns in 1,256 coverage snaps.
The newest Monster of the Midway is DB Jaylon Johnson!
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) April 25, 2020
Julian Blackmon (3rd Round, 85th Pick)
Julian Blackmon was selected by the Indianapolis Colts with the 85th overall pick in the third round of the 2020 NFL draft.
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound safety recorded 60 tackles, 4.0 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, and 4 interceptions (one returned for a touchdown) in 12 starts this past season. Blackmon was named First-Team All-Pac 12 and also collected 2nd-Team All-American honors.
In his last three seasons, the ball hawk had nine interceptions and is a two-time 2nd-Team All-Pac 12 member at cornerback as a sophomore and junior. Blackmon did not participate in the NFL Combine because he suffered a torn ACL in the Pac-12 Championship Game.
Having played both corner and safety during his time at Utah, Blackmon has demonstrated his athletic ability and showed teams just how valuable he is and that he can matchup with anyone in the country.
— GoUtahUtes (@UtahUteFans) April 25, 2020
Julian Blackmon’s a steal.
— Tom Fornelli (@TomFornelli) April 25, 2020
Zack Moss (3rd Round, 86th Pick)
Zack Moss was selected by the Buffalo Bills with the 86th overall pick in the third round of the 2020 NFL draft. The bruising runner leaves Utah as the most decorated running back in program history. During his four years at Utah, Moss set numerous school records and finished with 4,067 yards, 38 touchdowns, and averaged 5.5 yards per carry throughout his career.
According to Pro Football Focus, Moss forced a missed tackle on 38% of his rushes in 2019 — the most among any running back with more than 150 carries in a season since 2014. He also averaged 4.45 rushing yards after contact per attempt, the most among draft-eligible running backs.
Moss is now the third Utah running back who has been drafted in the last 5 years. The last two starters before Moss was Devontae Booker and Joe Williams.
The Bills looked at getting Melvin Gordon this offseason to pair up with Devin Singletary, but it didn’t work out. The Bills have been looking to replace Frank Gore in his backup role and they will get just that with Moss.
He's the first @Utah_Football player with three 1,000-yard rushing seasons.
— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) April 25, 2020
Like the #Bills pick of Zack Moss. He runs as hard as any back I saw this season. Good feet. Graduated in three years. Mature guy. Was a terrific player in the Pac-12. I think he's really underrated.
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) April 25, 2020
Zack Moss is my dude. Will replace Frank Gore in the Bills' offense and figures to seriously hinder Devin Singletary's upside in fantasy. Very nice RB duo for the Bills.
— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) April 25, 2020
Terrell Burgess (3rd Round, 104th Pick)
After playing on special teams in 2017 and having limited action on defense in 2018, Burgess took the starting opportunity and ran with it during his senior season. The 6-foot-1, 198-pound safety started all 14 games at strong safety for the Utes in 2019. Burgess was third on the team in tackles (81) and added 7.5 tackles for loss and two fumble recoveries.
The versatile defensive back can play safety or corner. According to several analysts, the Rams didn’t need another safety with Taylor Rapp and John Johnson as starters, however, Burgess’ ability to play multiple positions and his athleticism was too good to pass up. Analysts expect him to make an impact, even if he’s not a starter right away.
— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) April 25, 2020
That's three @Utah_Football defensive backs who've gone tonight — Jaylon Johsnon, Julian Blackmon and Terrell Burgess. Helps explain why the Utes finished No. 2 nationally in total defense last year.
— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) April 25, 2020
— Utah Football (@Utah_Football) April 25, 2020
Leki Fotu (4th Round, 114th Pick)
Leki Fotu was selected by the Arizona Cardinals with the 114th overall pick in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL draft.
The 6-foot-5, 330-pound defensive tackle had a combined 13.5 tackles for loss and 4.0 sacks for the Utes over the past two seasons. With his athleticism and strength, Fotu could start immediately as he joins an Arizona defensive line that is short on depth.
Fotu, an All-American, was the anchor in the middle of a dominant Utah defense that finished the season ranked No. 2 in the country. Fotu also becomes the first Herriman High alum to be taken in the NFL draft. He’s expected to sign a four-year deal worth $3.41 million, which includes a signing bonus of $773K.
Another hand in the trenches.
— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) April 25, 2020
Tough, physical, motor: Three words to describe Utah’s Leki Fotu and basically every Utah player.
— Tom Fornelli (@TomFornelli) April 25, 2020
Leki Fotu is a reminder of this universal truth: the most dangerous football players in the world are the ones who don’t wear any gloves or wrist tape. these men have no fear and nothing to lose.
— Mike Golic Jr (@mikegolicjr) April 25, 2020
Bradlee Anae (5th Round, 179th Pick)
Bradlee Anae was selected by the Dallas Cowboys with the 179th overall pick in the fifth round of the 2020 NFL draft. Many are calling this pick for the Cowboys the steal of the draft as analysts believed Anae would have been taken in the third round.
The 6-foot-3 255 pound senior goes to Dallas with a number of accolades. Anae was was a consensus All-American last season and won the Morris Trophy which is given to the best defensive lineman in the Pac-12. He was also a finalist for the Ted Hendricks Award which is given to the best defensive end in the nation. Anae leaves Utah as the all-time sacks leader (30) despite playing just three seasons.
According to Pro Football Focus, Anae’s was the only edge defender in the draft who had 40+ QB pressures in three straight seasons.
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) April 25, 2020
Cowboys strike again, nabbing Bradlee Anae, who should've gone 2 rounds earlier. 1st team All-Pac-12 last 2 years, 3rd team All-American as incredibly productive pass rusher. Just gets to the QB. Go, Jerry, go.
— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) April 25, 2020
John Penisini (6th Round, 197th Pick)
John Penisini, was selected by the Detroit Lions with the 197th overall pick in the sixth round of the 2020 NFL draft. The defensive tackle, along with Fotu, was the anchor in the middle of a dominant Utah defense that finished the season ranked No. 2 in the country. In the Pac-12, the Utes had the top defense and held Pac-12 opponents to just 81.8 yards rushing per game last year.
Penisini had just 15 tackles for loss and five sacks in three years with the Utes, but the stats don’t tell the whole story as the 6-foot-2, 330-pound senior faced constant double teams and was leader in the locker room.
— Detroit Lions PR (@LionsPR) April 25, 2020
Known for his stout run defense, Penisini, according to Pro Football Focus, was better against the run than Fotu, who was taken by the Cardinals in the fourth round.
“I was honestly preparing for the worst,” Penisini said. “Just looking for undrafted free agent, and to be honest, it’s a blessing to actually make it to sixth round. But right now I’m excited, Mom’s happy and everyone’s happy. It’s shocking. It’s a blessing, to be honest.”
Before going to Utah, Penisini played a year at Snow College before making the move to Salt Lake City. During his three seasons, Penisini made 22 starts and twice earned second-team All-Pac-12 honors.
Undrafted Free Agents
Tyler Huntley — Baltimore Ravens
Francis Bernard — Dallas Cowboys
Javelin Guidry — New York Jets
Josh Nurse — Baltimore Ravens
Darrin Paulo — New Orleans Saints