Now that training camp is underway, and the roster for the offseason is close to finalized—though always fluid—it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen happen over the course of the past few months.
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends, such as an accumulation of offseason activity. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the summer as we move forward.
Player: WR Diontae Johnson
Stock Value: Up
Despite having relatively good numbers last week, I had Diontae Johnson’s stock down because of the fact that he fumbled twice in that game, giving him five total fumbles on the season. But outside of the ball security, the rookie wide receiver has put together the best three-game stretch of his season to date.
Going back to the Arizona Cardinals game, Johnson has now caught 19 passes on 24 targets for 203 yards with two receiving touchdowns, along with a 16-yard rushing attempt, plus 146 return yards on seven punt returns, including an 85-yard touchdown. That’s 365 all-purpose yards.
On Sunday against the New York Jets, he caught a career-high eight passes, doing so on just nine targets (which was also a career-high) for 81 yards (which is, yet again, a career-high), including a 29-yard touchdown pass at the end of the first half.
And he did so working with two different quarterbacks in the same game. James Washington, meanwhile, has continued to play well as well. With those two, if the Steelers could actually get consistent play from the quarterback position, this offense could actually legitimately be…well, at least mediocre, which would be an improvement.
Johnson’s touchdown on Sunday gives him five on receptions, which is two more than anybody else currently has on the team, and he is set to become the first rookie on the team to lead in receiving touchdowns outright since tight end Eric Green back in 1990.
On the season, he now has caught 55 passes for 626 yards with five touchdowns. That’s not quite the JuJu Smith-Schuster breakout of 2017, but it’s not too shabby by any means, and is a promising start to his career.
Many felt that he could be a sneaky good draft pick, taken at the beginning of the third round. Outside of some concentration issue, a few drops, and the ball security—admittedly, those are big things—he has shown plenty of flashes of sneaky good.