With the NFL’s virtual offseason upon us, there is no telling when players will be able to report to the facility for on-field team drills. Without rookie minicamps, there is a chance that the Pittsburgh Steelers will not be able to see Chase Claypool or any other members of their 2020 draft class on a field until perhaps training camp at the earliest. Due to this, the last time the Steelers likely witnessed Claypool perform one on one drills against other competition was most likely at this year’s Senior Bowl and that event can be used as a useful guide.
With the help of our previous Senior Bowl notes and with some All-22 footage of practice, it is possible to go back and take an even closer look at what exactly the Steelers saw in Claypool during Senior Bowl week.
The biggest (and I mean that literally) trait that jumps out at you is Claypool’s size. Standing at 6’4, the former Notre Dame receiver really showed how he can use his big frame to win some releases off the line of scrimmage. Two routes from the Senior Bowl above, the first being a hook and the second being a slant, that really show off how Claypool can use his hands to win off the line.
Claypool’s ability to win off his release was one of the main talking points from his week at the Senior Bowl. With his size and 4.4 speed, the newly drafted Steelers’ receiver has the ability to win with power or quickness and that surely must have also caught the eye of Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert. A few more examples below.
Taken from day three of practice, Claypool here shows an ability to create separation with quickness and his physicality. He puts those quick feet to good use and then swims over the cornerback for an easy walk in touchdown.
Sheesh. This is a route that will surely excite the city of Pittsburgh as Claypool puts it all together on this one. He wrestles and wins his way off the line of scrimmage, then does a good job stacking on top of the defensive back and gets open for the touchdown. If he can consistently do this to NFL cornerbacks – look out.
While the Steelers will likely use the former Notre Dame receiver outside, he does have some experience playing in the slot and spent some time there during drills back in January as well.
Though he is not targeted on the play above, Claypool does a sufficient job creating separation with his quick feet. He is able to leave the cornerback frozen and flat footed, giving him the inside release he desires.
One area in which Claypool is expected to help the Steelers improve in immediately is in the red zone and he showed just what he is capable of doing on the final day of Senior Bowl practices.
Claypool originally drifts towards the outside pylon, possibly setting up for a fade but when that is not available, he works his way back inside and makes a terrific catch over the outreached arms of the cornerback. His height advantage is definitely going to put smiles on the face of Ben Roethlisberger and offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner when the Steelers’ offense enters the red zone.
The Steelers got a first hand glimpse of Claypool at the Senior Bowl and he offered an appetizer of what he can bring to an NFL team during the week of practices. He has the size and athleticism to win off the line of scrimmage. He also showed some vertical ability and most importantly, he showed he can be a real factor at putting six points on the board, especially in the red zone.