The Pittsburgh Steelers opened a big hole at wide receiver when they traded Diontae Johnson, and they filled it with Roman Wilson in the third round of the 2024 NFL Draft. While he brings a certain route-running finesse that Johnson featured in his own game, however, you’ll tell the two apart.

For one thing, while he’s lighter, Wilson is a better blocker—and certainly a more willing one. Not all of the differences are positive, granted, and we’ll have to see how he profiles on the outside. But I couldn’t help but notice Warren Sharpe calling him “the anti-Diontae Johnson”. Sharp Football Analysis followed up with some numbers to support the argument.

now, are those numbers fair? Well, let’s take a look. According to Pro Football Reference, Johnson caught 5 of 10 red-zone pass attempts in 2023. He picked up 23 yards on those receptions with three touchdowns and quarterbacks posted a 95.8 passer rating when targeting him. For his career, he’s caught 36 of 69 targets for 234 yards and 13 touchdowns. Quarterbacks have only thrown one interception targeting him in the red zone, with an overall 93.5 passer rating. Only 19 percent of his targets went for touchdowns, but those are outlier, college numbers for Wilson.

The deep targets percentage I can’t possibly answer accurately because I don’t know if that includes uncatchable targets. Johnson’s deep reception percentage is below average, but he’s had below-average quarterback play on deep targets. He ranked 30th in yards per route run last season.

The Steelers drafted Johnson, like Wilson, in the third round, though 66th overall rather than 84th. He made the Pro Bowl in his third season with 107 receptions for 1,161 yards and 8 touchdowns. Then Ben Roethlisberger retired and, surprisingly, he hasn’t put up the same kind of numbers since then.

In 2022, the Steelers used their second-round draft pick on WR George Pickens, who is now their top receiver. With Johnson traded to the Carolina Panthers, Pittsburgh is hoping Wilson can plug right into that spot.

Wilson figures to be an interesting complement to Pickens as a separator with good hands who can work through traffic. His willingness to do the dirty work (“No block, no rock”, he says) is an immediate asset, though—and perhaps the most anti-Diontae Johnson element of his game.

Still, at least publicly, nobody has ever hinted at Johnson being not being a good teammate. Coaches denied that his trade had anything to do with him off or on the field. Indeed, head coach Mike Tomlin insisted they really liked the player they got for him. He also denied Johnson asked for a trade—and Johnson recently expressed surprise that the Steelers traded him.

Time will tell how it works out on both sides, but either way, the parties have moved on. Johnson is a Panther, and Roman Wilson is a Steeler. He may lack some of Johnson’s flaws, but hopefully he can replicate a lot of the many fine qualities he brought to the starting lineup, as well.


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