Now that the 2020 offseason has begun, following a second consecutive season in which they failed to even reach the playoffs, 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 season, and with notice to anything that happens going forward.
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
Reasoning: The wide receiver recently posted a video that shows he has added about 10 points or so since his rookie season, after stating that one of his biggest offseason goals was to do just that.
Accomplishing an offseason goal that you set out for yourself, I would like to think, is a pretty good reason to get your name in this series with an upward-trending evaluation. That is the case today for Diontae Johnson as he heads into his second season.
The 2019 third-round draft pick is looking to join the long list of players, including many on the current roster, who took away some hard lessons from their rookie year about what it takes from a physical and mental perspective to thrive through the rigors of a full NFL season.
It didn’t help that he also dealt with injury throughout pretty much his entire rookie year, literally going all the way back to rookie minicamp, but it was more than that, certainly. Late in the year, he talked about hitting the rookie wall, though in spite of that, he had some of his best performances down the stretch. I believe he said that just before the Cardinals game in which he had a receiving and a return touchdown.
The Toledo product weighed 183 pounds at the Combine last year. In the video posted, the scale shows that he now weighs over 191 pounds. That is more than eight pounds, surely coming mostly in the form of muscle, which will serve him well, and is a transformation not dissimilar to that of Antonio Brown.
During his rookie season, Johnson caught 59 passes for 680 yards and five touchdowns, in spite of the fact that his reps were limited due to his inexperience. He was among the league leaders at his position in forced missed tackles.
Still, while putting on some muscle will help in certain areas, it’s not going to do much about his occasional drops and ball security issues, nor will it help him much to keep his balance. But if he continues on the course of the development his rookie season indicated, those things can be forgiven.