After the Pittsburgh Steelers traded away their second round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft to move up and draft Devin Bush, many fans wondered when they would be taking a wide receiver. With two third round picks, one being from the Antonio Brown trade, the team spent their first on a little-known player from Toledo named Diontae Johnson.
While fans puzzled over the selection, wide receiver coach Darryl Drake gushed over the player the Steelers selected with their second pick in the draft process.
This is what Drake had to say at the introductory press conference after the selection was made:
We’re very excited about Diontae Johnson, not only is he a tremendous football player, but also a tremendous young man. I fell in love with him after spending time with him, dining with him, and talking to him – seeing his passion for the game, his passion for wanting to be great, and his passion for his teammates. He did an outstanding job at Toledo, not only as a wide receiver but on special teams, as a returner, and that’s something you can talk to Danny Smith about. A tremendously gifted young man and the most natural catcher I’ve seen in a while. He did have some concentration drops like they all do, but he’s very gifted at catching the football. He doesn’t have great timed speed, but he plays the game fast. He’s really good vs. press, and as you know this is a press league. Those defensive backs walk up in your face and they try to fingerprint you, and he’s very allusive at the line scrimmage. You need a guy who can get off bump. The thing that he does is get off bump, and he gets in and out of his breaks as well as anybody that I’ve seen in a long time. He was a guy that I wanted and I appreciate Kevin [Colbert] and Mike [Tomlin] seeing the same things that I saw in this young man. As you get to be around him, you’re going to love his smile and his personality and his style of play. Again, very excited about the pick, and I think he’s a guy Steelers Nation is going to be really excited about.
Talk about some high praise from a very accomplished coach who has been around the likes of Antonio Brown. JuJu Smith-Schuster and Larry Fitzgerald. But for Johnson, his overall excitement started the day he met Drake, and when he visited the Steelers on an official pre-draft visit.
“I love the place. I like the energy from Coach Tomlin and the general manager around the building. I just felt like I was already on the team once I stepped foot in the building.” Johnson said in a conference call the day he was drafted.
Johnson feels he can be a great weapon for the Steelers, considering he doesn’t just play special teams as a return man, but can play inside and outside within the offense.
“Playing both really because I can play both in and out. Me being able to do that gives me another weapon on offense.” Johnson added.
To say Johnson is excited to not just be drafted, but to be a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers, might be one gigantic understatement. He realizes what he is now a part of, and seems eager to get his start at the NFL level.
Check out the video below where Johnson sits down with Steelers.com’s Missi Matthews to talk about his NFL Draft experience, and getting to work with the Steelers.
Third-round pick Diontae Johnson discusses his #NFLDraft experience, overcoming adversity, his connection with Coach Drake, and more.#FaceTime | @Juiceup__3 pic.twitter.com/N3LOR4zt6v— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 2, 2019