The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: Chase Claypool will be seeing more snaps than James Washington by the end of the season.
Explanation: It’s only two games, but so far, things are looking up for second-round rookie Chase Claypool, who has already made two explosive plays, including an 84-yard touchdown reception. With JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson both high-volume targets, if there is a wide receiver who will lose playing time to Claypool, it will be Washington.
Chase Claypool is basically James Washington if he was 6’4”, 234 pounds, and got off to a fast start during his rookie season instead of having growing pains. That’s not a knock against Washington, but the reality is that Claypool is already succeeding in doing the sorts of things that they wanted Washington to do.
Deep threat? Check? Combat catcher? Check. Big-body as a blocker? Check. Notice when they go to big packages with one receiver on the field, it’s been Claypool. Washington is doing perfectly fine for himself and already has a touchdown on the year, but you can’t teach the size and speed that Claypool has and already knows how to use.
There’s no question that Claypool will play more snaps than he has in the first games as the season advances. It’s quite likely that Washington will lose more snaps because of this than others. But that’s another discussion than saying that Claypool will actually see more snaps than Washington, who in year three is now an established veteran.
The play that Claypool made yesterday is one that Washington would have made as well if he got the same call and Roethlisberger made the same throw. The former may have the better official 40-yard dash time, but the latter plays faster than he timed. He was a track athlete. He knows how to run.
In our last article in these series, I talked about recency bias. That’s what’s at play here once again. Claypool had a nice couple of games, but look at where Benny Snell is now with most fans. Ben Roethlisberger still needs time to get in a rhythm with Washington as well, and that will come. But he’s less likely to make those rookie mistakes.