Pros and cons of Steelers possibly extending WR Diontae Johnson

Diontae Johnson #18 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
Diontae Johnson #18 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images) /
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Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson (18). Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

Pros of Steelers extending Diontae Johnson

Because of his past drop issues, Johnson gets a pretty bad rap in Pittsburgh, and I’m not so sure that’s fair to him. While drops can be costly, I think they are a stat we tend to put too much stock into. What’s more important is that he can get open on nearly every play. That’s a trait a lot of NFL receivers don’t possess.

In addition, Johnson’s hands were much more consistent last season. Though he missed a few big opportunities late in the year, he was solid for the most part — dropping just 5 balls on 169 targets, according to advanced stats from Pro Football Reference.

On top of becoming a more consistent player last season, Johnson has a lot of other things going for him. He proved to be one of the better ‘X’ receivers in the league (lining up on the lone WR side and beating press coverage). He also has rare change of direction ability and is one of the more elusive receivers after the catch.

What could make this potential extension worth it is that Johnson is still just 25 years old and should have his best years ahead of him. Considering that he’s already been a 100-catch, 1,000-yard receiver, this is pretty encouraging.

With a younger, more efficient quarterback at the helm, Johnson’s efficiency has the potential to skyrocket as well. In time, we might be viewing him as a legitimate top-10 receiver in the NFL.