The Pittsburgh Steelers weren’t necessarily counting on getting much of an impact from their rookie class, at least not right away. And in terms of playing time, perhaps they’re not, overall. But they are getting contributions, without question, including a quality start from fourth-round guard Kevin Dotson.
But it has been second-round wide receiver Chase Claypool who has been the headliner of the class so far. He’s only had a couple dozen snaps so far, including 20 routes run, but he already has five catches for 124 yards and a touchdown. He has two highlight-reel grabs, including an 84-yard score.
Although he hasn’t played enough snaps to qualify for Pro Football Focus in their threshold for ranking rookies, the site did include him in a list of rookie ‘studs’ heading into the third week of the season following two weeks of quality cameo play. Sam Monson writes:
Chase Claypool is fourth on the Steelers’ depth chart at receiver but has now made spectacular plays in each of his first two games in the NFL. He may quickly force his way into being a bigger part of this offense. This week, he caught all three of the passes thrown his way for 88 yards and a touchdown, with the biggest play being an 84-yard catch-and-run that featured almost 50 yards after the catch and some true speed down the sideline.
Claypool has now shown all the hallmarks of what made him an intriguing prospect — size, strength, speed and exceptional ball skills teamed with body control. And this week, it earned him one of the best receiving grades in the league. The only thing holding him back at the moment is relative lack of playing time, and that’s something the Steelers will surely rectify if he continues to put in similar studly performances.
Really, he’s on the mark here. Claypool has already demonstrated the ability to do just about anything that you would want him to do that you might have questioned heading into the league. He might not be able to do it on every opportunity, but he has the skill set that puts it in his repertoire.
That’s why he’s contributing as much as he has already, even though he is the team’s number four wide receiver, and on an offense with two tight ends who see a good number of snaps. Their problem right now is continuing to find ways to give him snaps. But that’s a good problem to have, to say the least.
And yes, there will come a time at some point that he has his ‘rookie moment’. Maybe he runs a wrong route that leads to an interception or drops a pass. These things happen. But he also seems to be the kind of person who has the makeup to move on quickly.