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Diontae Johnson Ranks 24th In PFF’s Wide Receiver Rankings

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The Steelers’ wide receiver room has only gotten stronger heading into 2023. George Pickens is entering his second year in the league, while the Steelers added an established veteran in Allen Robinson II. Despite this, the WR1 job remains Diontae Johnson’s job to lose.

Although the Steelers’ offense has seen a fair bit of change over the past few seasons, Johnson’s presence has been consistent. He’s recorded the most receptions on the team in three of the past four seasons and finished second to JuJu Smith-Schuster in 2020. Coming out of Toledo, Johnson wasn’t the most notable prospect, and it resulted in the Steelers being able to snag him in the third round in 2019. He’s become one of the biggest steals from that draft, as he was even drafted behind other wide receivers who did not pan out such as N’Keal Harry, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, and Andy Isabella.

Johnson had a bit of a down year last season, recording zero touchdowns after he tallied 20 in his first three seasons. Despite this, he still commands a lot of respect around the league. PFF’s Sam Monson showed him this respect by ranking Johnson 24th in his preseason top 32 wide receiver rankings.

“Pittsburgh’s offense hasn’t exactly been on fire over the past couple of years, so Johnson’s stats have taken a dive.” Monson noted. “He didn’t have a single touchdown in 2023, but then-rookie Kenny Pickett threw just seven all season, and Mitchell Trubisky tossed four before he was replaced by Pickett. Johnson remains an outstanding route runner and a savvy receiver in need of an improved passing game to really showcase those skills.”

In Monson’s ranking, Johnson was ahead of notable players such as the Chargers’ Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, the Colts’ Michael Pittman Jr., and the Saints’ Michael Thomas.

Even with his down year last season, Johnson ranks in the top 20 in receiving yards since entering the league in 2019. As one of the longest-tenured offensive skill position players on the team, his presence has been key as the team has transitioned from the Roethlisberger era to the Pickett era.

Having weapons like Johnson is particularly important as the Steelers try to keep pace in the AFC arms race. Despite his fairly high ranking, he is only the 4th-ranked receiver in the AFC North. The Bengals’ Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins are ranked, 4th and 19th respectively, while the Browns’ Amari Cooper is ranked 22nd.

As the Steelers move into 2023, they look to improve upon an offense that ranked 24th last season in passing yards per game. If they have any hope of doing that, Johnson will need to be a big part of the Kenny Pickett-led offense.

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