Now that the 2021 offseason has begun, following yet another year of disappointment, a fourth consecutive season with no postseason victories, 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 offseason as it plays out. We will also be reviewing players based on their previous season and their prospects for the future.
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: Even
Reasoning: While Diontae Johnson certainly got more opportunities to perform during his second season in 2020, and clearly became a favorite target of Ben Roethlisberger for his route running, the number of missed opportunities—leading the league in drops and drop percentage—makes it hard to make the case that his second year deserves a ‘stock up’ evaluation.
Depending upon whose estimates you use, Diontae Johnson dropped upwards of more than a dozen passes over the course of the 2020 season. That’s a lot no matter how many targets you see in a single NFL season, and there is never an excuse for it—a drop is, after all, a drop, something that you’re to blame for.
Unfortunately for Johnson, the drops are what he is going to be most recognizable for, at least until he gets back on the field again and has another opportunity to change the narrative. The reality is that he has a tremendous amount of talent, but he allows some of that go to waste with his post-route inconsistency.
In spite of the drops, he still finished the season with 88 receptions for 923 yards and seven touchdowns, adding another 11 receptions for 117 yards in the Steelers’ postseason defeat. While he played in 15 games during the regular season, it was more like 13 when to factor in the time that he missed due to injury.
Basically, whether or not he has a better season next year will be dependent upon whether or not he has the drop issue under control. During his worst streak, he later acknowledged that it got into his head, but said that he had learned to let it go.
But he is the kind of player who is never going to have great hands. He’s always going to have some drops, a fumble here and there, lost footing. That’s not going to stop him from making incredible plays the next moment, so having a short memory for both the highs and the lows will be the key to his future.