Sneaky Diontae Johnson Stat Proves Steelers Should Have Traded JuJu Smith-Schuster Already

JuJu Smith-Schuster and Dionte Johnson celebrating a touchdown vs. the Jets
JuJu Smith-Schuster and Dionte Johnson celebrating a touchdown vs. the Jets / Al Pereira/Getty Images

After their fallout with Antonio Brown, the Steelers seemed like they were only adding some receiving depth behind JuJu Smith-Schuster by selecting Toledo product Diontae Jonson in the third round of the 2019 draft. But giving him a closer look, they may have get a lot more than just depth from Johnson.

Even without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, the Tampa-area native shinned by catching 59 balls for almost 700 yards and five touchdowns on top of being named a Second Team All-Pro for his returning abilities. In fact, he had more catches in his rookie season in the NFL than his senior year with the Rockets.

The basic counting numbers weren't the only ones that impressed from Johnson in 2019, either. He also had an average of 2.39 yards of separation when he was targeted, which was the highest such total in the NFL.

This stat proves that the rising second-year receiver can get open like a veteran. With Big Ben back at the helm, there's no doubt that this athletic edge can produce some big numbers for the Steeler offense.

All that potential here may not mean such good things for JuJu Smith-Schuster, however. He had a major sophomore slump in Pittsburgh, and wasn't able to produce at the level of a No. 1 receiving option. He generated fewer receiving yards than not just Johnson, but James Washington who led the team with 735.

This is a good a time as any for the Steelers to try to get some compensation for the 2018 Pro Bowler before it is too late -- especially considering that he's in his contract year.

With or without Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh have acquired some quality receiving talent to call upon as they fight to regain supremacy in the AFC North. At this point, they may have erred by not trading the guy already.