With the selection of Zach Gentry in the fifth round on Saturday, the Pittsburgh Steelers finally used the second of the two selections they received from the Oakland Raiders as part of the exchange of Antonio Brown earlier this year. An agreement that effectively turned out to be an exchange for the best wide receiver in the NFL by a Diontae Johnson and a Michigan tight end giant.
For those who feel that the Steelers gave away their star receiver at a low price, the real value of the exchange will now be determined by the productivity of these two young prospects. And while it's too early to project what the future might hold for any of the players, it will be a difficult task for both players to match the numbers that AB put on the Steelers' offense.
Long before Pittsburgh linked Johnson to Brown for all eternity with the first of the choices they received for letting him go, Toledo's product had heard the comparisons with AB before, including the Steelers during their meetings with them before the draft. . Given its size and coming from a MAC school, the extensive deployment with kickback skills was an obvious comparison to the old Pittsburgh star on paper. A fact that was not lost on Johnson when speaking with the local media on Friday,
"You're a 5-foot-10, 180-pound catcher from a MAC school with return skills." Does that sound like any former Steelers?
"Yes, Antonio Brown. He is a great receiver and one of the guys that I admire in the league. But at the end of the day I can only be myself and do what I can do better. "
Johnson also noticed that the Steelers had discussed the skills that made Brown such a good receiver when they first met.
"They made reference to some things that AB does, they try to tell how he runs his routes and how he catches the ball and how his quickness helps him beat the defenses on the field, those are some of the same things that they told me about. They remind me of him. "
Just being the same size and coming from the same conference is far from enough to suggest the second coming of AB, but it seems that receiving coach Daryl Drake is extremely happy with his new player.
"We are very excited about Diontae Johnson, he is not only a tremendous footballer, but also a tremendous young man, I fell in love with him after spending time with him, dining with him and talking to him, seeing his pbadion for the game, his pbadion For wanting to be great and his pbadion for his teammates, he did an excellent job in Toledo, not only as an open receiver but in special teams, as a returnee, and that's something you can talk about with Danny Smith. and the most natural receiver I've seen in a long time. "
"He had some concentration falls like all of them, but he's very gifted to catch the ball, he does not have a great timed speed, but he plays fast, he's really good against the press, and as you know, this is a league of the Those defensive backs come close to your face and they try to take your fingerprints, and he's very allusive in the line of scrimmage.You need a guy who can get out of the bulge.He does is stand up, and he comes in and out of his breaks just like anyone he has seen in a long time, he was a boy who loved and appreciated Kevin. [Colbert] and Mike [Tomlin] Seeing the same things that I saw in this young man. As you are close to him, you will love his smile, his personality and his style of play. Once again, I'm very excited about the national team, and I think he's a man the Steelers Nation are going to be really excited about. "
If the Steelers are ultimately judged to be the winners of Brown's trade, it will not only be for Johnson to prove his worth, but Gentry's expectations should be tempered at first, considering his relative inexperience.
As a former converted quarterback, with only a few years to occupy the position in the market, it seems to be a great request to expect him to contribute significantly in the early stages of his professional career. When he spoke to the media about the latest addition to his position room, while tight end coach James Daniel was excited about the selection, his description of the player was much less encouraging than Drake's praise of Johnson.
"He's a good football player, big picture, he went to Michigan as a quarterback and became a tight end, he has a couple of years of experience playing there, he's a guy we're excited to get into. and work ".
And when asked about his abilities as a catcher and his talent as a blocker, Daniel's description suggests that Gentry still has a lot to learn.
"He was a quarterback, so I would say he's deeper on the receiving end, he has some adjustments to make, he can be a good blocker, I think, but I think the boy is excited and willing."
Time will tell, but Johnson may still have to do most of the hard work for the Steelers to be considered the long-term winner of Brown's trade.