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: It’s incredibly early, of course, but it’s never a bad thing to hear a bunch of positive things about a young player. You know, sometimes those positive things you end up seeing right away, like with Devin Bush or T.J. Watt or Maurkice Pouncey, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Le’Veon Bell…
With just a handful of padded practices and serious work under our belts, we can already safely say that Chase Claypool is the next great thing to happen to Pittsburgh sports. Well, maybe we’re not quite there yet, but he is looking like a big wide receiver who’s 6’4” and has some bulk to him, just like the package says.
Of course not every big and tall wide receiver ends up playing like a big and tall wide receiver by the time that get into a regular season game, and that is always a risk for any player no matter what their background or where they were drafted or what position they play.
But to hear a veteran like Joe Haden talk about how Claypool is making plays over his head, a guy who was in the Pro Bowl last year, you can’t help but be encouraged by it. Were there some glowing reports about a guy like Justin Hunter? Sure, but they were smatterings, and we already knew Hunter’s history as a practice player. We knew Donte Moncrief’s background, too.
Just because Claypool is also big and tall doesn’t mean he should be met with the same sort of skepticism as big and tall receivers who have already failed to live up to their potential in the past, because plenty of big and tall players are pretty dadgum good, as Keith Butler might say.
I have little doubt that Claypool will be one of them, and it helps that he has a quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger who is going to enjoy the hell out of throwing the ball up to him. He’s got speed, he’s got a wide catch radius, he knows how to use his body, he can work both outside and inside. And he enjoys blocking. What’s not to like?
Granted, we won’t know more until he’s in a game. But it’s hard to be discouraged based on what we are hearing to date.