Now that the 2020 regular season 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 are seeing over the course of the season as it plays out. Who is making plays? Who is missing them? Who is losing snaps? Who is struggling to stay on the field?
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. 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 season as we move forward.
Player: WR Diontae Johnson
Stock Value: Down
Reasoning: For all the plays that he makes, Diontae Johnson reminded us once again that there is a ‘con’ side to his scouting report, which includes drops. He had a couple of significant drops yesterday in the Steelers’ win against the Baltimore Ravens that would have helped make the game much more comfortable.
Coming off of back to back 100-yard games—the first two of his career—things were looking up for second-year wide receiver Diontae Johnson, re-establishing himself and continuing to build his relationship with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger after recovering from a series of injuries that robbed him of the better part of three games earlier tin the year.
Yesterday’s game, however, reminded us of how frustrating it can be to see such a great talent that remains prone to making frequent mistakes. He had two passes that were clear drops on Wednesday. At worst, both of them would have had a great chance of scoring.
The first came early in the second quarter on third and goal from the seven. He was able to win inside leverage against Marlon Humphrey and looked to have the angle to get into the end zone for the score, but he let the ball ding off his hands. They settled for a field goal.
The second play one could argue was a drop was fortunately not as costly, because the Steelers would still go on to score, but he had a shot at hauling in a deep ball inside the five-yard line. The defender did play the pocket, though, so you can dispute this one.
You can’t dispute his drop on a nice touch pass on 3rd and 5 with under four minutes to go, however, which gave the Ravens the ball back, and which they used to score a 70-yard touchdown that was misplayed by the defense.
That catch would have extended an important clock-killing drive and resulted in the game being a lot more negatively exciting in the end than it needed to be. Drops are only one of the issues that Johnson has in his game, with ball security (he also had a fumble out of bounds) and footing being others. That doesn’t take away the immense talent that he has, but it’s frustrating when these issues crop up.