The second round was rough for a lot of Pittsburgh Steelers fans seeing the playmakers they coveted like wide receivers like Tee Higgins, Michael Pittman and Laviska Shenault come off the board. Then the safeties had a run with four coming off the board including Grant Delpit and Antoine Winfield. Those wanting a running back saw D’Andre Swift and Jonathan Taylor move to their new NFL homes.
Without the regular NFL offseason of player visits and meetings this was a strange pre-draft process. As we got closer to the draft I felt that the Steelers could go in nearly any direction with their pick other than quarterback. Trade down was an option to get more picks but they bypassed that option and when pick 49 came along their choice was Notre Dame wide receiver Chase Claypool.
The Steelers have a good trio with Juju Smith Schuster, James Washington and Diontae Johnson but none of them have the physique and speed of Claypool. At the Combine he measured at 6’4” and 238 pounds with a 40.5 inch vertical and ran a 4.42. He has and impressive speed and explosiveness combination at that weight.
As far as where Claypool was drafted it seemed a little earlier than where the experts saw his value.
The NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah had him listed as his #72 prospect.
Gil Brandt had him listed at 59 in his hot 150.
Lance Zieirlein of NFL.com gave him a 6.32 grade (Will be starter within first two seasons) felt he would be a day two selection. He had this to say, “The comparison to former teammate Miles Boykin is an easy one since both have elite size and explosiveness, but Claypool has a higher ceiling and is a little more pro-ready. Claypool doesn’t have shake to get much separation underneath, but he’s physical inside the route and is adept at making contested catches when needed. He has size/strength/speed to bedevil singled up cornerbacks on 50/50 deep balls. He’s a vertical challenger outside, a possession receiver as a big slot, an outstanding run blocker and immediate coverage ace on special teams. His elite traits and diverse skill set could allow him to create a unique footprint as a pro.”
And our own Josh Carney was in lock step with the others and described him as a physically dominant receiver who knows how to use his body positioning and is too strong for defenders on 50/50 balls.
Carney summed up saying, “Final thoughts on Claypool – I’d play him quickly in an X or Z role and ask him to be some combination of a deep ball threat and a possession guy. He has the traits to dominate in both areas, but isn’t going to be a burner like some teams want at the X or Z.
One great thing with Claypool is that even if it may take some time to see a return on the investment at receiver, he’ll impact games on special teams right away. He’s an excellent coverage guy on punts and kicks, and can make plays in those situations as well, recovering a couple of fumbles in his career.”
Overall: This is a solid value pick based on the expert rankings but for the Steelers this is a good value pick. Not only do you get the big target that Ben Roethlisberger has long coveted but you also get a guy that can wear a lot of hats including having high value as blocker in the run game and on special teams. We had long suspected this off season that the Steelers were looking for players that can do a lot of things and Claypool is perfect example.