June 24, 2024

Bears Analysis

Top 25 most important Bears in 2023: No. 24 Roschon Johnson

Bears selected Johnson with 4th-round pick in April

Chicago Bears running back Roschon Johnson runs on the field during the team's rookie minicamp at Halas Hall in Lake Forest, Ill., Saturday, May 6, 2023.

Shaw Local is counting down the top 25 most important Bears for the 2023 season.

What makes one player more important than another? That’s subjective, of course. But for our purposes it comes down to this: Are the Bears worse off if this player can’t play? Does this player have untapped potential or past greatness to live up to? Is his story going to be one fans follow closely this season?

The best player on the team isn’t always the most important, but he certainly can be. We will release one player every day between now and the start of training camp.

No. 24 Roschon Johnson

Position: Running back

NFL experience: Rookie

Last year’s ranking: N/A

Looking back: The Bears drafted Texas running back Roschon Johnson with a fourth round pick (115th overall) in April. Johnson originally joined the Longhorns in 2019 as a four-star recruit who had been a dual-threat quarterback in high school. He moved to running back and rushed for 649 yards and seven touchdowns as a true freshman.

The Longhorns then signed five-star recruit Bijan Robinson, who was rated as a top-25 recruit nationwide. Johnson found himself playing behind the All-American and future first-round draft pick. Johnson said this spring that he never really considered transferring, even though he probably could’ve been a starter on another team. Instead, he served as the change-of-pace back behind Robinson. Johnson averaged 513.7 rushing yards over each of the next three seasons, scoring at least five touchdowns each year. He was also a key contributor on special teams.

Looking forward: The Bears have overhauled the running back position. They let David Montgomery leave in free agency and signed D’Onta Foreman to replace him. They also added Travis Homer, a running back who could be a core special teams player. Then they selected Johnson with their first pick during day three of the draft.

Johnson’s role on the 2023 Bears is still a little bit murky. He should be a contributor immediately on special teams, but he will have to prove himself as a running back. Foreman and returning back Khalil Herbert will likely start the season ahead of him on the depth chart. Head coach Matt Eberflus still wants his team to have a run-first attack on offense. Johnson could begin the season as the third running back option, which would almost certainly lead to chances to touch the ball if someone ahead of him on the depth chart were to miss time due to injury.

It’s within the realm of possibility that the Bears found a diamond in the rough in Johnson. With him spending three years stuck behind Robinson, there’s a world in which he gets a chance to carry the rock and proves that he’s no backup. At worst, he appears to be a reliable special teams contributor. This season is all about finding out what he can do.

In case you missed it: Previous installments of the top 25

Sean Hammond

Sean Hammond

Sean is the Chicago Bears beat reporter for the Shaw Local News Network. He has covered the Bears since 2020. Prior to writing about the Bears, he covered high school sports for the Northwest Herald and contributed to Friday Night Drive. Sean joined Shaw Media in 2016.