When Ben Roethlisberger’s 2019 season ended in the first half of the Steelers’ Week 2 game against the Seattle Seahawks, Diontae Johnson was still a complete unknown.
The Steelers’ 2019 third-round pick out of Toledo, Johnson had shown promise through training camp and preseason, but what type of NFL player he was going to be was definitely still up in the air.
When Roethlisberger yielded to Mason Rudolph, Johnson had a grand total of three NFL catches for 25 yards. Hardly a sure thing.
With Roethlisberger watching for the rest of the season and top receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster hobbled by a series of injuries, Johnson got more and more opportunities as the season progressed.
That’s when he became a potential breakout candidate as one of the top receivers not just on the Steelers, but in the NFL. He finished sixth amongst rookies with 735 yards and showed the kind of promise that has Roethlisberger looking forward to building the connection with the now-second-year receiver.
“I got to watch him last year and what an incredible talent,” Roethlisberger said. “It has been a lot of fun to actually get more reps with him and more plays. I’m looking forward to getting out in an actual game feel with him because I think sky is the limit in terms of talent with that guy. He is fast, he’s quick, he can get open, he’s got great hands. He’s one of those receivers you look forward to playing with.”
More from Roethlisberger: https://www.steelers.com/video/ben-give-everything-i-have