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Diontae Johnson vs George Pickens - the Steelers WR Situation

The Steelers WR room enters 2023 with little certainty but contrasts that with plenty of optimism for the new year ahead. The Steelers’ two primary receivers, Diontae Johnson and George Pickens, are currently coming off the board in the 5th and 7th rounds, respectively – and that gap, while small, is warranted.

A breakdown of the available Steelers WR opportunity between Weeks 4-18

From Weeks 4-18 in 2022 (all games where Kenny Pickett started the game), and excluding Week 14 when Pickett left the game having attempted just one pass, Diontae Johnson out-targeted George Pickens 101-68, earned 10 more red zone targets (24-14), and three more end zone targets (10-7). That’s all fine and dandy, but Diontae Johnson didn’t score last season, while Pickens found pay dirt four times last year. What gives?

Well, it doesn’t help as an NFL receiver to have all of the quarterbacks that start for your team in a year combine for just 11 touchdowns – especially when three of them go to your team’s RB. That’s what happened to Johnson, who found himself hyper-targeted but without any touchdowns to show for it. Assuming Kenny Pickett takes a step forward in year 2, Johnson should be able to capitalize on another year of high receiving volume and return to his regularly scheduled production in 2023.


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