Greg Cosell is a longtime and respected NFL analyst and a senior producer at NFL Films. In short, when he weighs in on players ahead of and after an NFL draft, it’s worth the time to listen to his thoughts and evaluations. On Friday, Cosell was a guest on Ross Tucker Football Podcast and he discussed several skill position players that were selected in the second-round of the 2020 NFL Draft. One of those players discussed was new Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Chase Claypool out of Notre Dame, the 49th overall selection in this year’s draft.
“I think I’m in the minority because I did not love him on tape,” Cosell told show host Ross Tucker. “And you know me, Ross, that’s all I’m going by. There’s nothing more than that. I don’t think he played to his 40-yard dash time at the combine and other than his speed and certainly his size, yes, can he go up and get the ball? Does he have a wide catch radius with really good body control? Yes, but I thought he was a very straight-line guy. I thought he was pretty stiff. He’s not a sudden or explosive athlete. He’s kind of a one speed guy. He’s not a guy who’s going to get in and out of breaks with a whole lot of quickness. So, I viewed him as a guy that in terms of route separation and separation quickness at the top of his stems, that that’s something he would need to significantly work on.”
Cosell had even more expanded thoughts on Claypool.
“Can he be effective on back shoulder throws and can he go up and get the ball as a contested catch receiver? Yes,” Cosell said. “Does that make him a vertical receiver in the NFL? Maybe. I’m not sure. I think he profiles best as kind of a big slot, and or a movement schemed receiver who can kind of work the middle of the field at times. He’s got a big body and good hands. When I finished watching him, I said to myself, ‘I think there are tight ends in the NFL who move better than Chase Claypool.”
Cosell was asked by Tucker that while it doesn’t sound like it would happen, if he thought maybe Claypool should be moved to tight end as a member of the Steelers.
“And again, we don’t know what they’re going to do and we don’t know what they’re going to do formationally and where he lines up,” Cosell said. “But, yeah, I know people were blown away because he mastered the combine, but I did not feel like, just watching his tape, that he stood out to me.”
Friday afternoon, Cosell posted his scouting report of Claypool on Twitter for all to see and I have included that below. During that same interview, which can listen to below, Cosell raved about former USC wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr., who was drafted earlier in the second-round by the Indianapolis Colts. I can’t fault him for that, however, as I was also much higher on Pittman than I was on Claypool just ahead of the draft.
I don’t get that sense that Cosell hates Claypool’s tape, I just think he feels the Steelers over-drafted the young wide receiver. We’ll now have to wait and see Claypool’s rookie season ultimately plays out. Barring injuries hitting the Steelers wide receivers in 2020, Claypool isn’t likely to play nearly as much as Diontae Johnson did during his 2019 rookie season. However, I do fully expect that Claypool will at least be included in a few different red zone offensive packages early on in his rookie season.
As far as Claypool projecting to be more of a big slot wide receiver in the NFL with the Steelers, that’s quite possible even though he only played roughly 20% of all snaps in the slot during his last two seasons at Notre Dame. We’ll have to wait and see what happens with JuJu Smith-Schuster after the 2020 season because he’s been a very effective big slot wide receiver for the Steelers so far. It seems like the biggest concern regarding Claypool as he enters his rookie season is his play speed and ability to gain separation at the top of his routes.