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2024 NFL Draft

Steelers Take Freak Athlete WR in New Mock Draft



LSU Steelers WR Brian Thomas

The Steelers are in the thick of the playoff race, but with the end of the college football regular season and draft declarations already starting, the mock drafts are rolling in. Dane Brugler of The Athletic started it out this week and has the Steelers addressing a surprise position.

That position would be wide receiver. Brugler has the Steelers taking LSU wide receiver Brian Thomas, and Thomas would help the team solve their issues at the spot with some of the questions surrounding Diontae Johnson. That is the rationale for Brugler in this spot.

“The way things are going with Diontae Johnson, his time in Pittsburgh might be limited,” Brugler said. “The Steelers have as good a track record drafting receivers outside the first round as anyone, but it would be tough to pass on Thomas, who has outstanding size (6-4, 205), speed and tracking skills.”

Johnson has gone viral for his lack of effort on Jaylen Warren’s first-quarter fumble against the Cincinnati Bengals. It became a national topic from the Steelers’ 16-10 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. The heat on Johnson is justified. But he shrugged it off following their win on Sunday, saying he never saw the ball.

No, I just didn’t see it,” Johnson said. “I was just doing what I was doing — blocking or whatever.”

Thomas is a freak athlete who can make plays above the rim. He is an entirely different player than Johnson, which raises some questions about the pick, but there is no doubt that Thomas has the requisite tools to appeal to the Steelers. His height, weight, and speed combination allows him to win on the outside and vertically, but more than anything, he is a guy who gives 100 percent on every play.

On Tuesday, Mike Tomlin detailed his thoughts on it for the first time since it happened. He did not appear happy with either part of the play, but more importantly, he would not color in the lines on anything more than the fact that Johnson absolutely ‘had to answer for it’ to his teammates and the media. It is anyone’s guess on how that works out, but Thomas is Brugler’s solution if they decide to move on.