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Steelers rookie Diontae Johnson receives interesting NFL comparison

Some experts believe Pittsburgh Steelers rookie wide receiver/kick return specialist Diontae Johnson plays the same way as the Denver Broncos’ Emmanuel Sanders.

NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlin is one of them. Prior to the 2019 NFL Draft late last month, he predicted a team will draft Johnson in the third round.

Zierlin’s prediction was accurate. The Steelers made Johnson the 66th overall pick out of the University of Toledo on April 26. They used one of the draft picks they acquired from the Oakland Raiders in the trade for seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Antonio Brown on March 14.

Here’s the rest of Zierlin’s overview on Johnson:

Despite a lack of desired size, Johnson might have the ability to play inside or outside thanks to his speed and ability to elude press from his release.

He has basketball athleticism, but his routes will need more focus and less freestyle once he steps up in competition.

The athleticism and quickness should allow for a wide range of usage on offense but his hands might always be a concern for him.

He’s a little small and wasn’t as fast or quick at the combine as expected, so Day 3 in the draft is his likely landing spot as WR3/WR4 talent.

If you’ve been following Sanders’ NFL career, these attributes sound familiar by now. Steelers fans know Sanders all too well – he spent his first five seasons in the NFL (2010-2014) in the Steel City.

Both Johnson and Sanders possess above-average speed and athleticism – two important attributes of a wide receiver.

For his part, Steelers wide receivers coach Darryl Drake “fell in love” with Johnson not just because of his game, but his character as well.

It looks like Pittsburgh got a steal in Diontae Johnson. Can he exceed expectations like Emmanuel Sanders? It should be exciting to find out.