While Aaron Rodgers was reportedly left “beside himself” in the wake of the Green Bay Packers’ first selection of the 2020 NFL Draft—quarterback Jordan Love—Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger may be feeling that same emotion, but in a very different way.
Rodgers appears to have been under the impression that the front office was going to be getting him a weapon, such as a wide receiver. Instead, they drafted the player that they expect will eventually replace him. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh just drafted its fourth wide receiver on Day Two in as many years, and their first taller than 6’2” since 2014.
That would be Notre Dame’s Chase Claypool, who comes to Pittsburgh via pick 49 in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft, their first selection after having traded their first-round pick to the Miami Dolphins in September in exchange for first-team All-Pro safety Minkah Fitzpatrick.
The tall target joins a wide receiver room that is now getting crowded at the top, headed up by JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, and Diontae Johnson, each drafted, in order, annually since 2017. Deon Cain and Amarah Darboh are the other wide receivers still on the roster who ended the 2019 season on the 53. Ryan Switzer was on injured reserve, but also remains on the roster.
History shows that when Roethlisberger has a tall target who can gets, he’s going to get thrown to. See even Ladarius Green’s brief stint with the team back in 2016. Claypool should come in and be a red-zone threat early. Meanwhile, he’s getting acquainted with his new teammates.
Multiple reporters have relayed that the receiver told them he got a call from Roethlisberger immediately after speaking to members of the team’s coaching staff and front office when they selected him with their pick. Smith-Schuster would text him soon after.
Rookie WR Chase Claypool says Ben Roethlisberger called him immediately after he got off the phone w/ #Steelers brass. Said JuJu texted him just a few minutes ago. “They’ve been really good about reaching out and making this pretty special.”
— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) April 25, 2020
Minutes later, he was on a conference call with the local media addressing questions. “They’ve been really good about reaching out and making this pretty special”, he said of how the organization has been treating him. He will join fellow Notre Dame alumnus Stephon Tuitt in the locker room, as well.
One other thing Claypool mentioned is that he watched a lot of tape on Smith-Schuster during his senior year of college, so he is familiar with the Steelers’ top target’s body of work already. He is being asked to come in and complement what they are already working on with JuJu, Washington, and Johnson, who had a strong rookie season amid adverse circumstances in 2019.
‘Ben Roethlisberger called me right after I got off the phone with the @steelers. Then JuJu (Smith-Shuster) called me after that.’ – @ChaseClaypool who added he has watched a lot of film of JuJu
— Teresa Varley (@Teresa_Varley) April 25, 2020
The 6’4”, big-bodied wide receiver can be considered get-well gift from the front office to Roethlisberger, who missed most of the 2019 season with an elbow injury, from which he continues to rehab. Art Rooney II reiterated again last night that he appears to be, if anything, ahead of schedule for his return in 2020.