When Mike Wallace first got an extended look at rookie wide receiver Stefon Diggs in training camp, one name came to mind: Antonio Brown.
Wallace and Brown, an All-Pro last season, were teammates in Pittsburgh early in their careers. Wallace was entering his second season when the Steelers drafted Brown in the sixth round out of Central Michigan.
Brown was buried on the depth chart as a rookie, but in his second season, he had 1,108 receiving yards and made it to his first Pro Bowl. The Steelers ended up giving big money to Brown, and Wallace joined the Dolphins.
While Diggs, like Brown, was a late-round pick, Wallace said it’s the rookie’s skill set, not his path to the NFL, that reminds him of his old teammate.
“You can tell from Day One who can play football or not,” Wallace said. “They have some exceptions where guys get better drastically over time. But for the most part, you can tell from Day One, can he play or can he not play? And I always felt like he could from Day One. … Just the skill set, the way he runs his routes, the energy that he has. It reminds me of him.”
About 10 minutes later, I relayed Wallace’s lofty comparison to Diggs.
“You want to say ‘thank you’ … but the work has yet to be done,” Diggs said. “There’s a lot more plays to be made out there before I get to that point.”
The fifth-rounder from Maryland politely said he isn’t a fan of comparisons.
“I believe everyone is different,” said Diggs, who caught seven passes for a game-high 129 receiving yards in yesterday’s win over the Chiefs. “Antonio Brown, excuse my language, is a hell of athlete and a hell of a receiver, and I have yet to work to that point. I’m just trying to earn my stripes.”