Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson is a polarizing figure. But no matter what you think about Johnson, there is one trait of his that continues to prove to be a top flight trait, and that is his separation ability. Johnson has commanded mass targets from his quarterbacks over the years due to his ability to separate from just about any alignment.
While the production and stardom has not always followed that one elite trait, he continues to prove that trait is there as one of the best in the league. In fact, according to one metric, Johnson could be defined as the most open receiver in the NFL in 2022. Using Next Gen Stats’ tracking data, ESPN used the GPS data to give receivers scores in different areas.
Johnson came in with a 99th percentile open score, the best in the NFL and tied for the best open score at the position since the tracking data began in 2017. If you look down the board at individual seasons, Johnson ranks inside the top 12 three times for the metric. It’s just one metric, and Johnson’s catch and YAC score both fall at either league average of below league average.
Using all three metrics, his cumulative score comes to about 81 overall. The lack of touchdowns are the question to answer when by these projections, Johnson should have had around six touchdowns in the Steelers offense. Obviously, that never happened, but Johnson’s usage in the offense and the routes he ran contribute to that fact.
For what it is worth, Johnsons 81 overall clocks in at 5th overall among tight ends and wide receivers. The analytics, at least within the tracking data sample set, really like Johnson as a player. These are largely supposed to be predictive of future performance, and Johnson scores well here. So, that makes the circumstances around 2023 that much more optimistic. Johnson should be in line for what is a bounce back season if these numbers hold.