All 91 is a Pittsburgh Steelers Now series profiling each of the 91 members of the Steelers 2019 training camp roster.
18 • Diontae Johnson, rookie wide receiver
Last year: Played in 13 games as a junior with Toledo, helping the Rockets to a fifth consecutive bowl berth. Entered the NFL draft a year early and the Steelers selected him the third-round pick that they received as part of the Antonio Brown trade.
Stats: As a junior with Toledo, Johnson caught 49 passes for 761 yards and eight touchdowns. He had his best statistical season as a sophomore in 2017, when he grabbed 74 passes for 1,278 yards.
Also returned kicks and punts, scoring one touchdown on each type of return over the each of the last two seasons.
Was named the 2018 MAC Special Teams Player of the Year and was a first-ream all-conference selection as both a wide receiver and a kick returner.
Camp outlook: The Steelers have high expectations for Johnson, who has drawn comparisons to Brown, another mid-round receiver out of the MAC.
But they tempered those expectations by surrounding him with enough talent that the team doesn’t need immediate production. The Steelers brought in Donte Moncrief and re-signed Eli Rogers to go along with Ryan Switzer and James Washington, putting Johnson firmly sixth in the pecking order at the outset of camp.
He can make a run up that order with a strong camp, but a more likely scenario is a gradual phasing in over the course of the season.
He’ll also compete with Switzer to be the team’s primary punt and/or kick returner, and with Switzer in line for a greater share of offensive duties, that seems like a battle Johnson could win with solid performances in the preseason.
Projected role: Has the ability to play inside and outside, giving the Steelers a versatile weapon that they can build a package of plays around, if they so choose to.
His athleticism, quickness and route-running will give Steelers fans some flashes of the future this season, but a full-time role is probably a year away.