Though every team will do it to some extent, the Pittsburgh Steelers more than most tend to be identified with the philosophy of looking to identity a specific type of player that fits not just their system, but their culture. Other teams may take a more flexible approach of acquiring what talent they can and adapting accordingly, but there is a belief in a ‘Steelers Way’ in the organization that they loosely try to adhere to.
It might not show up on the field in obvious ways sometimes, but it is conducive to building a certain culture within the building, and within the locker room, that creates unity and a sense of purpose beyond oneself, which is valuable in any team activity, whether in sports or otherwise.
And Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly believes the Steelers got a Steelers player through and through with the man they drafted from his program, the big wide receiver Chase Claypool, whom they took with the 49th-overall selection in round two of the 2020 NF LDraft.
“You got a player who really resembles the fan base”, he recently told Teresa Varley for the team’s website. “He is somebody who is dependable, you can count on. He is going to be there every single week whether he is nicked up or not because he has an immense amount of pride in what he does. He is going to bring the physical aspect every week. He is tough and physical, and he is going to make plays.
“He is a Steeler. He is that kind of player. There isn’t a better place he could go to in the NFL. He epitomizes Steelers Nation”.
Now, might he have said that, or something similar, to just about anybody who interviewed him about Claypool if they were the team to him? Well, it’s hard to say for sure. It’s hard to imagine he would tell any team that his player contradicts the philosophy of their program.
Let’s just say it’s not often a coach ever has anything negative to say about one of his players right before or right after he gets drafted, unless he happened to have left the program under questionable circumstances, and that wasn’t the case for Claypool, who was a senior.
The 21-year-old figures to be penciled in at number four on the team’s wide receiver depth chart from the outset, behind recent draft picks JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, and Diontae Johnson, all of whom, like him, were Day-Two draft picks.
But what he offers that stands out from the group is sheer size and athleticism. Not only is he 6’4” and 233 pounds, he also has a great vertical leap and wingspan to give him a very impressive catch radius to pair with the demeanor to fight for loose balls in the air.