Kinesiology of Diontae Johnson’s Sweet Feet

Hunter Homistek - DKPittsburghSports.com

By: G.Stryker  Twitter @SNStryker & Instagram @SNStryker
SteelerNation.com

No I’m not talking about the offensive line coach, Shaun Sarrett and his nickname “Sweet Feet”. I’m talking about a video taken by Hunter Homistek @HunterAHomistek of DKPittsburghSports.com of Diontae Johnson  @Juiceup__3 running release patterns in training camp last year, just before his hip injury on August 2nd. Let’s take a look at Johnson’s footwork on these four routes and break down his mechanics.

0sec Route 1 Skinny Post: It looks like Johnson is lined up in a track stance, ready to push hard off of the line. Instead, he does a quick jab step with his right leg, then resets and explodes into his pattern with his quick feet. On his 5th step, he’s at full speed, plants hard on his right leg, and looks like he’s going to explode into a flag/corner route and feigns a body lean to the outside. Instead, that plant leg changes his direction and he crosses quickly into an inside route for the skinny post. The ball is thrown high. He does a perfect job of rotating to face the ball, and catches it with both palms just above his head. His momentum is carrying him quickly towards the back of the endzone, and when he catches the football, he immediately turns his head to locate back of the end line. He then gets his feet down quickly and easily before going out of bounds. Great hand mechanics and nice pattern.

5sec Route 2 Corner Fade: I love his footwork here. He starts again with the jab step from the first pattern, he explodes into that first step, but instead of sprinting, he goes into a hop step, so you don’t know if he’s releasing inside or outside. He pushes hard off with his left foot (you can see the dirt fly up), and explodes toward the corner. He turns his head around at the goal line, rotates his body to face the football, jumps to high point, and again both palms on the football above his head to secure the catch. He then taps both feet in bounds just before his momentum takes him out of the back of the endzone. Taller receivers can go right into a fade pattern to use their height mismatch to catch high footballs. Smaller receivers have to get open with footwork to catch a fade, and this pattern would confuse most seasoned NFL corners to create just enough space for a catch. 

11sec Route 3 Skinny Post: Johnson is running another skinny post. This time, instead of a jab step, he goes right into his route, simulating a free release. Out of a free release, you have more momentum up-field, and instead of doing a body lean with his quick foot placement from the 1st route, he is at full speed, and fakes an in, out, into release, into his skinny post. Turn up the volume at the 13sec mark and you can hear his feet plant loudly for the in-out-in (Bang Bang Bang). The ball is thrown at chest level, and he opens his chest to face it, catching it easily with both palms on the football, and his eyes looking it in. This is the best example of Johnson’s explosion, since you can actually hear his footfalls on his fakes, and the video was taken on a cell phone!

17sec Route 4 10yd Out: Another free release, Johnson goes right into his pattern, steps hard at the 20 with his right foot, and explodes and bends hard. The ball is a little late, and he has to slow up, but he does a nice job of locating the ball and adjusting his speed to still make a clean basket catch with both palms on the football and pinkies together. He then stutter steps to get the feet in bounds. Reviewing this play, the ball probably shouldn’t have been thrown since the QB (who was Ben Roethisberger when I zoomed in), barely fit it between James Washington running up the sideline out of bounds, and the golf cart moving the opposite direction down the field. It’s a good thing we didn’t lose our young receiver to a golf cart accident on that play!

 

What do these four patterns say about Diontae Johnson? He is quick, explosive, has great hand mechanics, and body control. He does a good job of setting up routes, and using both his quickness and straight line speed to create even more opportunities for fakes and separation. He is an excellent route runner, and the best receiver I’ve ever broken down in college, at beating press coverage.  

Not only did Johnson turn these skills into one of the most productive seasons ever by a Pittsburgh Steelers rookie wide receiver, he also led the team in receptions. His explosiveness also earned him a 2nd Team All-Pro nod after only being the punt returner for half of the year. Keep in mind, he achieved all of this success with a nagging groin injury and had surgery to correct it after the season.  I am excited to see what he can do at 100% health, because NFL cornerbacks will not be ready to defend this kind of quickness and speed that go along with Johnson’s sweet feet!

 

So what do you see #SteelerNation? Let us know in the comments below!

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