The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of the teams who are most invested in the idea of getting to know a player as a person as much as possible before making a commitment to them. Most of the time. Sometimes they don’t need much contact to know that he is one of their guys.
That was the case for Friday night’s second-round selection, wide receiver Chase Claypool out of Notre Dame, who told reporters that he hardly had any contact at all with the Steelers during the pre-draft process, and basically confirmed that he was not one of the 37 prospects with whom they ‘met’ via FaceTime.
The 49th-overall pick said that he had only spoken to head coach Mike Tomlin at the Senior Bowl as his only point of contact with the organization, though offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner did say that they would have been at his Pro Day, had it taken place. That would normally go without saying, however. They always attend Notre Dame’s Pro Day.
“I had no clue the Steelers would take me”, Claypool said, via Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. They “would have been my last guess”.
The big man is the fourth wide receiver that the team has drafted between picks 49 and 66 over the course of the past four draft classes, preceded by Diontae Johnson at 66 in 2019, James Washington at 60 in 2018, and JuJu Smith-Schuster at 62 in 2017.
Claypool adds a big 6’4” frame to the room, however, and should come in and serve as a red-zone situational player early in his career. Starting as the number four wide receiver, there shouldn’t be a lot expected to be put on his plate, anyway.
But make no mistake, unlike Martavis Bryant, despite his rawness, there won’t be any delay in getting him a helmet. He is going to be a four-phase special teams player to boot. He could also potentially replace Johnny Holton in their 22 and 31 packages as the blocking wide receiver.
The 11th wide receiver taken in the first 49 picks, Claypool was the fifth at his position off the board in the second round after six were drafted in round one. Two more wide receivers would be taken after him for a total of 13 drafted in the first two rounds, or the first 64 selections, of the 2020 NFL Draft.
There are some scratching their heads about value when it comes to this selection, but that is based partly on the sheer strength of the wide receiver draft class, and it’s important to keep in mind that they knew they wouldn’t be picking again until 102. They got the guy they wanted at that spot, and that’s all that matters. Could they have traded down a few spots and still gotten him? Possibly. But it’s a chance they didn’t want to take.