There has been some doubt about the Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver corps ever since Antonio Brown was traded away. Last year they didn’t get much a of a chance as Ben Roethlisberger missed all of the season and they were playing with backup quarterbacks.
Pittsburgh has one of the youngest groups of wide receivers going into the 2020 season. Their No. 1 receiver Juju Smith-Schuster is still only 23 years old. Their oldest receiver Ryan Switzer is only 25. Well, they can now add a 21-year-old to the squad as the Steelers took Notre Dame receiver, Chase Claypool in the second round with the 49th pick.
The choice to take Claypool was kind of shocking as Denzel Mims was still on the board and almost every analyst had him higher. There was also whispers that maybe the Steelers would take Jalen Hurts as the heir apparent to Roethlisberger. Nevertheless, Claypool was the pick.
Claypool grew up and played high school football in British Columbia. He was not getting much attention from American colleges, so he started posting highlights on Facebook. He eventually got noticed and became a prospect. Claypool went on to play for Norte Dame.
During his time at Norte Dame, he was a good not great. It wasn’t until his senior year where he had a monster year and really showed off what he was made of as he took off as the No. 1 receiver. He had 66 receptions for 1,037 yards and 13 touchdowns. He capped off his college career by being named MVP during the 2019 Camping World Bowl vs. Iowa State. He caught seven receptions for 146 yards and one touchdown.
Claypool has the potential to be great player for the Steelers. It is easy to get excited about him playing for the black and gold.
First and foremost, his size. He is 6 foot 4 and 238 pounds. He runs like a wide receiver but looks like a tight end. He is a giant compared to his receiver teammates. He has the chance to be a true No. 2 receiver behind Smith-Schuster by mid season. Claypool is also a freak athlete considering how big he is. Some of his combine stats were a 4.42 40-yard dash, 40.5” vertical, and a 126” broad jump. He joins Lions legend Calvin Johnson as the only 6’4 receiver to run a sub 4.45.
Run blocking is another strength of Claypool which is great for the Steelers, who love to run the ball. Claypool is also a great redzone target because of his size. The Steelers were dead last in red-zone touchdown percentage in 2019 at a laughable 35 percent rate.
If Eric Ebron and Vance McDonald don’t produce, Claypool has the potential to slide down to tight end as well.
The biggest weakness of his that most analysts agree upon is that his separation is subpar and his route running needs to be polished. If he can work on his separation speed not only will he be a possession receiver but also an outside threat.
The Steelers are getting a big receiver that has the potential to be a star for the organization. If Claypool trains hard and keeps learning the sky is the limit.