Professional Soccer Focus just lately recognized eight second-year gamers who might have ‘breakout’ seasons in 2020—and two of the eight are Pittsburgh Steelers.
WR Diontae Johnson
On the prime of PFF’s listing is large receiver Diontae Johnson, who the Steelers drafted with the primary of their two third-round picks final yr.
As it’s possible you’ll know, Johnson contributed 680 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns in 2019, extraordinarily wholesome numbers for a rookie wideout, particularly in mild of the absence of Ben Roethlisberger.
PFF describes Johnson as “an especially slick route-runner [who] was commonly open solely to see the ball miss him utterly,” earlier than advising that each Mason Rudolph and Devlin ‘Duck’ Hodges posted ‘lowly’ PFF grades in 2019, at 53.zero and 45.8, respectively.
Johnson “snagged 91% of the catchable targets thrown his approach and broke 18 tackles after the catch, second amongst all rookies,” notes PFF, “so if Johnson will get a full season of high quality passing play from a wholesome Roethlisberger, we might see him evolve into one of many higher receivers within the sport.”
This evaluation strikes me as spot-on. Some Steelers followers could also be considering of JuJu Smith-Schuster because the Steelers’ #1 large receiver, however the actuality is that Smith-Schuster appears higher suited to play the position of #2 receiver, as he did in 2018, when Antonio Brown was drawing the lion’s share of the eye from defensive backs, leaving Smith-Schuster extra room to make performs.
The perfect situation for the Steelers is that Johnson develops right into a legit #1 receiver, Smith-Schuster’s manufacturing comes again to one thing approaching what he delivered in 2018, and James Washington proves he’s a dependable #three possibility.
On the similar time, one hopes that rookie second-rounder Chase Claypool demonstrates the potential to develop into a future starter, whilst he contributes on particular groups. In the meantime, Ryan Switzer and Deon Cain could also be preventing for one roster spot, challenged by the likes of Saeed Blacknall (Penn State), who most just lately performed within the XFL.
LB Devin Bush
The opposite Pittsburgh Steelers participant on PFF’s radar is inside linebacker Devin Bush, who Pittsburgh drafted within the first spherical (10th total) final yr.
PFF admits that Bush didn’t grade out particularly nicely in 2019, noting that he “surrendered 5 touchdowns in [pass] protection, two greater than another rookie linebacker, and was additionally penalized twice as a lot as another first-year linebacker.”
But author Sam Monson alludes to the truth that Bush was saddled with “onerous duties,” particularly by rookie requirements, and dealt with them nicely sufficient to counsel that he “might grow to be one thing particular.” In different phrases, “with a full yr within the system, he might kick on and appear like probably the greatest within the league in 2020.”
Once more, this seems to be a sensible situation, and one which the Steelers want to return to fruition if the protection is to maximise its potential in 2020.
PFF’s Different ‘Breakout’ Candidates
As for the opposite gamers on PFF’s listing, these are: large receiver Andy Isabella (Arizona), defensive lineman Ed Oliver (Buffalo), cornerback Jamel Dean (Tampa Bay), linebacker T.J. Edwards (Philadelphia), defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons (Tennessee) and operating again Josh Jacobs (Las Vegas).
Observe the Heavy on Steelers Fb web page for the newest breaking information, rumors and content material!