Updated: Dec 9, 2021
(Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Diontae Johnson has been on a tear of late. In his last four games, Johnson has recorded 31 receptions for 380 yards and three touchdowns. Johnson's 380 yards are the second-most in the league during the four-game span, second to only Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (577).
On the season, Johnson has 76 receptions for 914 receiving yards and six touchdowns. Johnson needs just 86 yards receiving in tonight's game against the Vikings to reach 1,000 yards receiving for the first time in his career. Johnson also ranks fourth in the AFC with catches of 20-plus yards (13) and 40-plus yards (4).
It's been a big bounce-back season for Johnson, as he had a league-high 15 drops last year, according to Pro Football Focus. This season, Johnson has just two drops on 119 targets.
Johnson has an 85.7 PFF grade this year, which ranks third-best in the league, behind just Cooper Kupp (87.1) and Jefferson (90.2). Johnson has emerged into a true No. 1 wide receiver.
In his weekly Q&A sessions with Mike Tomlin, Bob Labriola of Steelers.com asked Tomlin what he remembered about the evaluation process of Johnson in the run-up to that draft and Darryl Drake's involvement in it? And Tomlin had a pretty interesting response.
"A. It really was universal. We all loved him, his ability to separate at breakpoints," Tomlin told Labriola. "Defenders would be close to him, he would stick his foot in the ground and then be 2 yards away from them. And quarterback-friendly is a way to describe his route-running. He creates space. The first tape I watched of him when he was at Toledo, they were playing the Hurricanes at Toledo. Now why the University of Miami went to Toledo, I do not know. But they were playing Miami at Toledo, and he was doing the same thing to those guys that he was doing to the MAC opponents. It was very evident that element of his game would translate (to the NFL), and it has. He creates space. It's very difficult to stay close to him at the breakpoints. The subtlety of his movement, the burst, his body control, all make him a tough task (for defensive backs)."