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Cohen, Jackson still driven to prove critics wrong

Safety Eddie Jackson  and running back Tarik Cohen were both selected by the Bears in the fourth round of the 2017 draft, but that's not all they have in common.

Motivated to prove they should have been drafted higher, Jackson and Cohen emerged as rookie playmakers and are driven to take the next step in their second seasons.

"It just makes us compete," Jackson said Sunday at Bears training camp. "We come out every day with that mindset of getting better, want to just prove everybody wrong. There was a lot of doubt about him coming out, a lot of doubt about me coming out, and we just want to continue to prove critics wrong."

Jackson no doubt slipped to the No. 112 pick in the draft because he missed the final seven games of his senior season at Alabama in 2016 with a broken leg he sustained while returning a punt. The injury prevented him from working out at the NFL Combine.

"I feel like the only reason he went that late [in the draft] is because of his injury," Cohen said. "I tell all my homeboys back home that he's really a first-round pick without the injury. His stats prove that."

Jackson displayed ball skills, big-play ability and the knack for getting into the end zone with the Crimson Tide, scoring five career touchdowns on interception returns of 93, 55 and 50 yards and punt returns of 85 and 79 yards.

Jackson demonstrated the same traits as a Bears rookie last year, scoring touchdowns on a 75-yard fumble recovery and a 76-yard interception return in a 17-3 win over the Panthers. In the process, he became the first player in NFL history to record two defensive TDs of at least 75 yards in a game.

Cohen likely slipped in the draft to pick No. 119 because he played at a small college in North Carolina A&T and is only 5-6 and 181 pounds. But that didn't stop him from having a breakout rookie season in Chicago.

Demonstrating the same electrifying moves that earned him the nickname "The Human Joystick" in college, Cohen rushed for 370 yards and two touchdowns on 87 carries, caught 53 passes for 358 yards and one TD, averaged 9.4 yards with one touchdown on 29 punt returns, averaged 22.4 yards on 26 kickoff returns and even threw a TD pass.

"He's very versatile," Jackson said. "You line him up at X, Z, whatever at receiver, he'll look like he's been playing there all season long. That's one of his strengths.

"It's going to be exciting to watch him. They've been putting him at [several different positions]. It's kind of crazy, but it's kind of fun. It's going to be a sight to see."

Every day at practice, Jackson and Cohen motivate each other to improve.

"I feel like it's great," Cohen said, "because when we're going against each other, it makes us bring out the best because you don't want your homeboy to have nothing over you that you can bring back to the room and talk about like, 'I got you today.' That competition brings out the best."

Senior writer Larry Mayer ranks the top 10 draft rounds in which the Bears selected multiple players.