The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2021 offseason practices concluded last week. Next up for the team is their annual training camp, which should get underway in the latter part of July. Ahead of training camp, we will preview the team’s 90-man roster three players at a time for you as part of a 30-post series. This Steelers 90-man roster preview that includes outlooks for each player goes alphabetically by last name to make it easy to follow along with.
The next three players we will preview today are Diontae Johnson, Jamir Jones, and Jarron Jones.
WR Diontae Johnson — Johnson did have a solid sophomore season in 2020 as the Toledo product and former third round draft pick caught 88 passes for 923 yards and seven touchdowns. Johnson’s 2020 season, however, would have been even better had he not led the NFL in drops with 15. Johnson primarily plays the X position in the Steelers offense. He does a great job when it comes to his ability to get separation from defenders and especially against man and press coverages. Johnson is also great at making defensive players miss him after he makes the catch. Johnson also was used sparingly as a punt and kickoff returner in 2020. He registered eight punt returns for 58 yards and one kickoff return for 24 yards. In total, Johnson played 733 offensive snaps in 2020 in the regular season with 19 more coming on special teams. In the Steelers lone playoff game last season, Johnson registered 11 receptions for 117 yards in 782 snaps played on offense.
Outlook: Johnson’s outlook for the 2021 season is a good one and especially if he can fix the drop problem that plagued him in 2020. Johnson figures to be targeted at least 130 times in 2021 and he could finally see 100 receptions for more than 1,000 yards if he improves his overall catch percentage. It’s unlikely that Johnson will be used much as a returner in 2021 but he can handle both punts and kickoffs should the need arise. He has averaged six touchdown receptions his first two NFL seasons so he can likely register at least that many in 2021 with a few likely being 20 or more yards in distance.
OLB Jamir Jones — Jones caught the eye of the Steelers earlier in the offseason when he worked out at the Notre Dame’s 2021 Pro Day. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert were present for that event and Jones ran his 40-yard-dash in 4.71 seconds at 237 pounds, per reports. Jones went undrafted in 2020 and originally signed with the Houston Texans. As a senior at Notre Dame in 2020, Jones recorded 26 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, four quarterback hurries, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and one pass defensed in 11 games. He measured in at his pro day at 6030, 248 pounds. Jones played in 10 games as a true freshman for Notre Dame back in 2016 and totaled eight tackles, including three versus Navy that season. He was second on the team in 2016 in special teams tackles, with eight. In 2017, Jones played in 12 games, mainly on special teams, and had four total tackles. As a junior in 2018, he played in 12 more games and had 12 tackles. In his 2019 final season, Jones played in 11 games, had 26 total tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, a pass breakup, four quarterback hurries, a fumble recovery, and forced two fumbles — a breakout season for him.
Outlook: Jones is an outside linebacker prospect for the Steelers but buried on the depth chart behind T.J. Watt, Alex Highsmith, Cassius Marsh and Quincy Roche. He would need a heck of a training camp and preseason not only on defense, but special teams as well, in order to make the Steelers 53-man roster come early September. In all likelihood, Jones will be battling this summer for a spot on the Steelers practice squad after the final rounds of roster cuts are made. He is an intriguing pass rusher, and it should be fun to watch him compete during training camp and play during in the preseason games.
T Jarron Jones — Jones originally signed with the Steelers in April of 2020 after playing in the XFL with the New York Guardians in the XFL. Before that, he spent time in the NFL after signing with the New York Giants as an undrafted rookie free agent following the 2017 NFL Draft. Since then, he has been a member of several organizations and on multiple practice squads. Last season he spent time on the Steelers practice squad prior to being placed on that units Reserve/Injured list with an undisclosed injury. He unfortunately has had some off-the-field issues since signing with the Steelers. In college at Notre Dame where he was a defensive tackle, Jones had 59 tackles in his career, adding 19.5 tackles for a loss and 4.5 sacks. As a senior in 2016 he had 11 tackles for a loss.
Outlook: The Steelers have seemingly been attempting to further develop Jones as a tackle after he spent his college career as a defensive lineman. On the surface, that conversion doesn’t seem to be going too well. Jones is buried on the Steelers offensive line depth chart as training camp approaches and thus he’ll likely be battling for a spot on the team’s practice squad over the course of the next nine weeks. It will be interesting to watch him play during the preseason at one or both tackle spots.
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