While it might be a bit of a stretch to say that Diontae Johnson’s rookie season was ‘one to remember’, his first year with the Pittsburgh Steelers was certainly a good one. He led the team in receptions with 59 and receiving touchdowns with five, totaling 680 receiving yards, which ranked second only behind James Washington. Of course, that those numbers would approach team-highs speaks to the offense’s overall struggles as much as it does the quality of his rookie campaign, but I digress.
If there was one glaring issue with his first year, it was his ball security, as he fumbled five times, second-most among all non-quarterbacks in the league. Three came on offense, with two on special teams as well. I’m not sure how much of that can be attributed to his small frame, but either way, he reportedly intends to bulk up a bit this offseason.
It’s common for rookies to work on their physique and conditioning pretty heavily during their first full offseason. Head coach Mike Tomlin refers to this often when he talks about players making their most significant jumps in their career going from year one to year two. It’s been most prominent among running backs, typically, but can be found across the board.
“I’m not worried about getting too big. I’m not going to get too big”, Johnson told Brian Batko of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette last week. “I’m just going to try to add as much weight as I can, see if I can maintain it or I can’t”.
One wonders if this came after he already had an exit meeting with Tomlin, and if that is what he talked about with the coach and with the team’s training staff. It certainly wouldn’t be surprising, as that is the sort of thing that would be prominently discussed in such meetings with young players.
“It wouldn’t hurt to bulk up a little bit”, Johnson continued, as Batko quoted in his article linked above. “That would just make my game better, make me tougher to guard and whatnot, but that’s something I’m going to focus on this offseason”.
Truth be told, I’m not sure how much bulking up would help him win routes too often, though of course it doesn’t hurt, either. He’s already adept at winning off the line of scrimmage, but it could improve his success when cornerbacks try to jam him, which he hasn’t seen too often yet. The more tape gets out there on him, though, the more it will come.