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: Up
Reasoning: According to the pool reporters, rookie wide receiver Chase Claypool has been making plays and having impressive moments in recent days during training camp. Head coach Mike Tomlin also offered some praise for the young Notre Dame product.
It should always be noted that any rookie training camp hype for a big, tall wide receiver has to be issued with a word of caution. These are exactly the kinds of players who will excel in a practice setting in ways that won’t necessarily translate onto the field.
That’s not to say that this will be Chase Claypool’s path as he begins his NFL journey. It’s simply to emphasize that the fact that he is making impressive plays right now is what would be expected of a player with his athletic skillset. If he weren’t making plays in practice, even against the Joe Hadens and Steven Nelsons of the team, it would be discouraging. It’s perhaps the single easiest position in which to impress in practice for a gifted athlete.
But, he is making those plays, so that’s a good thing. After yesterday’s practice when asked about Claypool and third-round outside linebacker Alex Highsmith, head coach Mike Tomlin said that they were proving that they belong. When asked about a specific play that the former made, he said that he didn’t know which play to which he was referring, because “he made a couple of them, which is a good thing”.
The Steelers did not draft him because they needed him to be a significant immediate contributor. They do return five meaningful contributing wide receivers from last season, including their core three early draft picks from the past three years: JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, and Diontae Johnson.
As he continues to ‘prove that he belongs’, however, like the others did as rookies—at least the former and the latter—he will state his case for playing time. There’s nothing stopping Claypool from jumping ahead of the learning curve and having an impact on the 2020 season.