Steelers Draft Toledo Receiver Diontae Johnson In 3rd Round

Receivers Coach Darryl Drake "Fell In Love With Him"

Eric Hagman
April 26, 2019 - 10:20 pm
Diontae Johnson

Tim Fuller - USA TODAY SPORTS

Pittsburgh (93.7 The Fan) - The Steelers used the third-round pick they acquired from the Raiders in the Antonio Brown trade (66th overall) to take Toledo receiver Diontae Johnson, who--no joke here--has drawn comparisons to Brown for the right reasons.  

The similarities go beyond both receivers having played for MAC schools.. There's Johnson's size (5-foot-10, 183-pounds),  his being known more for quickness than speed and his return skills.

"He's a great receiver," Johnson said of Brown.  "He's one of the guys that I look up to in the league."

Everyone knows the player Brown developed into after being a sixth-round selection out of Central Michigan nine years ago.  What does Johnson the rookie receiver bring to the Steelers?

"Winning at the line of scrimmage, catching the ball in traffic.  I can run any route in the route tree."

Johnson also looks forward to contributing on special teams.

"I"m versatile on the field," Johnson said. "Just being able to (return punts and kicks) I can come in and make an impact automatically.  I'm looking forward to impressing the coaches and helping them believe in me."

Receivers coach Darryl Drake was efusive in praising his new pupil, calling him "a tremendous football player and a tremendous young man."   

"I basically fell in love with him after spending time with him and seeing his passion,"   Drake told reporters shortly after the selection.  "Just a tremendously gifted young man, the most natural catcher that I've seen in a while.  He did have some concentration drops, like they all do, but he's very gifted as far as catching the football."

Drake, who coached Larry Fitzgerald with the Cardinals, didn't stop there.

"He gets in and out of his breaks as fast as anyone I've seen in a long time," Drake said.  "(He's) really, really good vs press (coverage).  As you guys know this is a press league.  Those (defensive backs) walk up in your face and they to try to fingerprint you. He's very elusive at the line of scrimmage. He's a guy that I wanted.  He's an exciting football player."

Johnson ran a 4.53 40 at the combine. Drake acknowledged that  Johnson doesn't have great timed-speed, but plays the game fast, saying "speed to me is overrated." He cited Fitzgerald and Brown among the greats that lack blazing speed.  Johnson will be tried as both an inside and outside receiver. 

Drake said Johnson wouldn't have been there when the Steelers selected again seventeen picks later.

"I know for a fact that Tampa Bay was going to take him with their next pick," Drake said.  "I got cussed out by the Tampa Bay head coach (Bruce Arians) that called me some names  for taking him.  That was his guy."

The Buccaneers then traded their pick four spots after the Steelers took Johnson.