Toledo’s first draft prospect is off the board.
The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted wide receiver Diontae Johnson with the 66th overall pick of the third round in the 2019 NFL Draft. Johnson was the 10th receiver to hear his name called on stage at Nashville, and his pick was announced by former Steelers wide receiver and Super Bowl XLIII MVP Santonio Holmes.
Johnson, the second pick of the third round, benefited from a breakout sophomore year at Toledo. During the 2017 season, a year in which the Rockets earned their first MAC title of the decade, Johnson shattered a Toledo single-season record with 1,278 receiving yards. He additionally hauled in 13 touchdowns for one of the top offenses in the nation. The Ruskin, FL native scored eight receiving touchdowns on 761 yards as a senior for the Rockets. In both seasons, Johnson was showered with First Team All-MAC honors.
Johnson joins a Steelers team which had plenty of controversy surrounding its wide receiver situation this offseason. Generational talent and former Central Michigan wide receiver Antonio Brown split with the Steelers in an ugly divorce, and his former team was only able to obtain a third and fifth round pick for the 4-time First Team All-Pro wideout. That third round pick from the Raiders became another MAC receiver in Johnson.
Pittsburgh retains 2018 Pro Bowler JuJu Smith-Schuster at receiver. Smith-Schuster enjoyed a breakout season with 1,426 yards and seven touchdowns a season ago. He’ll likely start alongside Eli Rogers and 2017 Biletnikoff Award winner James Washington. Johnson should be right behind them on the depth chart and see some playing time as a rookie as the team’s fourth or fifth wide receiver.
The Steelers may also play Johnson as a kick returner or punt returner. At Toledo, Johnson was recognized as a First Team All-MAC punt returner and Second Team All-MAC kick returner in both 2017 and 2018. Johnson averaged 23.4 yards per kick fielded and 20.2 yards per punt fielded in college, scoring four times as a return specialist.
Johnson is the first Toledo draft pick since his former quarterback Logan Woodside was selected by the Bengals in the seventh round of the 2018 NFL Draft. After no picks from 2009-16, Toledo continues its three-year streak of having a draft selection.