NFL Draft

The Person Behind The Player: WR Diontae Johnson

The Pittsburgh Steelers were dealt a big loss this offseason with the trade of talented wide receiver Antonio Brown. On the second night of the NFL Draft, the Steelers took Toledo wide receiver Diontae Johnson, who resembled Brown in a lot of ways. In fact, the similarities are almost too similar.

Both receivers are from Florida and played in the MAC conference. Both receivers stand at 5’10 and weigh roughly 180 pounds. Their vertical jump was an identical 33.5” and their 40-yard dash times were a mere 0.03 seconds apart. Though Johnson may seem very identical to Brown, their similarities end there. Johnson had his own unique come up that led to him being the Steelers’ second selection of the 2019 Draft.

Johnson first made an impression when his former Toledo receiving mate Cody Thompson went down with an ACL injury during the 2017 season. In Thompson’s absence, Johnson put up 1278 receiving yards and eight touchdowns on 74 receptions. The Toledo receiver thinks very highly of his Toledo receiving mates such as Thompson and Jon’Vea Johnson. He credits his teammates for helping each other out throughout their years at Toledo and could not wait to enter the NFL along their side.

“It was an awesome experience, being around those two guys and just growing together and learning together. There were days where we need help on something on the field or watching film, we’d always go to each other and ask each other questions to help us get our game better. We wouldn’t be as good as we are right now, if we didn’t like really help each other out and stuck with each other, even on the bad days and also on the good days,” Johnson told The Downtown Rams Podcast.

Johnson has a tremendous dedication to honoring his team mates, he can not make it through a few minutes in any interview without mentioning them. The newly drafted Steelers’ receiver also enjoyed the benefit of attending the NFL Combine with Thompson and spoke of how the experience was a great experience for both of them.

“That was a great experience. Just being able to go through it with Cody, my team mate, was a good experience also because he got to go through the same things I did,” says Johnson.

Now a member of the Steelers, Johnson will join another talented and high character group of receivers like the one he played in at Toledo. There is JuJu Smith-Schuster, the young, charismatic face of the receiving core. Then there is the quiet and humble James Washington and others such as Ryan Switzer, Donte Moncrief and Eli Rogers. With Brown opting for greener and more lucrative pastures, you can be sure that Johnson’s ability to help his team mates improve will be greatly appreciated with his new team mates.

Wide receivers’ coach Darryl Drake described Johnson as one of the best interviews and guys he has been around in a long time. Though the newest member of the Steelers’ roster carries himself in a very humble manner, he is still very confident in his abilities.

“I can play both in and out and even special teams too. A lot of receivers in this draft don’t play special teams, they are just receivers. I feel like I have the upper hand on them because I can play special teams and receiver. There aren’t too many people that can-do things with the ball in their hand like I can and make people miss like I can. I’m just being humble about it but I just feel like I’m better than anybody they compare me to,” Johnson told Stampede Blue.

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