Now that the 2020 offseason has begun, following a second consecutive season in which they failed to even reach the playoffs, it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen happen over the course of the past season, and with notice to anything that happens going forward.
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends, such as an accumulation of offseason activity. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the summer as we move forward.
Player: WR Chase Claypool
Stock Value: Down
Reasoning: The NFL has still not even announced whether or not there will be a preseason—perhaps a sign that there won’t be—and that’s going to be bad for the odds of all rookies to contribute significantly this year. Chase Claypool is no different on a team that already has three wide receivers clearly ahead of him.
He might be bigger and taller and even faster than the rest of the room, but that doesn’t mean Chase Claypool is going to get on the field any quicker. JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, and Diontae Johnson all benefited from having a normal offseason as rookies, and even within that group, not all of them were significant factors as rookies.
The outlier would be Washington, who actually played a lot of snaps but contributed little statistically. That was because the Steelers needed his snaps, though. They won’t need Claypool to get on the field just because they need somebody to line up.
That means he’s not going to play, or play much, if he’s not ready for that role, the way other wide receivers like Washington have had to do. Remember, they even benched him a couple of times in 2018 because he was struggling.
There’s really no reason to think that Claypool is further along in his development than Washington was at the same point in his career. The latter had a more productive and consistent college career, for one, so he should have been better prepared anyway.
Now you add in a shortened or canceled preseason on top of no Spring workouts at all, and a reduced training camp as well, and you’re left with not much more than classroom work. His training this offseason has come from working with a retired NFL wide receiver.
While I wouldn’t put money on it, it’s not unreasonable to wager that we might even see him as a healthy scratch at the start of the year if the Steelers don’t feel comfortable with where he is as a special teams contributor. I doubt that this happens, but it is an option that is within reason.