Ready or not: 5 small-school rookies with biggest shoes to fill

May 10, 2019

Not every NFL rookie's learning curve is the same. For instance, Denver Broncos second-round QB Drew Lock started four years in the SEC but won't start out of the gate in the NFL, while first-rounders Kyler Murray and Dwayne Haskins each started for only one season albeit brilliantly at major programs but are likely to be handed the reins by their respective organizations on Day 1.

4. Pittsburgh Steelers WR Diontae Johnson, Toledo (WR coach Darryl Drake)

Plucked with the second overall pick in the third round to help replace another former MAC receiver you might have heard of (and certainly have heard from this offseason), Antonio Brown, Johnson joins a WR corps with JuJu Smith-Schuster, who established himself as a star last year, and James Washington, the 2017 Biletnikoff winner who was selected six spots earlier than Johnson in 2018 and endured a rough rookie go.

Still everyone will associate the Johnson pick with Brown after the All Pro's loud forced exit from Pittsburgh and is well aware of Kevin Colbert's track record drafting wideouts. Not only was Johnson selected more than 100 picks before the fellow MAC product Brown nearly a decade earlier, they're nearly identical in size and have similar styles. No pressure though.