Now that the 2020 regular season 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 are seeing over the course of the season as it plays out. Who is making plays? Who is missing them? Who is losing snaps? Who is struggling to stay on the field?
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. 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 season as we move forward.
Player: WR Chase Claypool
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: After two weeks, the rookie second-round pick out of Notre Dame has shown both explosive traits and some veteran awareness that bode well for his future.
Well, we couldn’t make it through the week without talking about Chase Claypool at some point in this column as the rookie recorded the longest first score from scrimmage by a first-year player in team history with his 84-yard receiving touchdown on Sunday against the Denver Broncos.
Though we’re dealing with a very small sample size, there really isn’t any way to talk about Claypool’s play so far without using the word impressive. He has already made two of the highlight-reel plays of the season, starting with his improbably catch for 28 yards down the right sideline in the opener, and then beating man coverage down the left sideline to go the distance earlier this week.
In between that, he’s demonstrated that he is as-advertised as a special teams player, both in terms of his performance and his enthusiasm. He registered three tackles alone against the Broncos and also induced a fair catch after he missed a couple of opportunities six days prior.
Ben Roethlisberger said of the 22-year-old that he is the kind of player who won’t make the same mistake twice, and we have already seen some of that corrective process going on. That is equally as important as the sort of awareness the has shown, such as when sliding inbounds on the fourth-and-one end-around conversion at the end of the season opener against the New York Giants.
Right now, the biggest question that the Steelers are facing as it pertains to Claypool is how to manufacture both more snaps and more targets for him. The rookie has said that he is comfortable with the pace at which they have been breaking him into the offense, not asking him to do too much, but that he expects to have a bigger and bigger role as the season progresses. If he continues to produce the way he has, that will be inevitable.