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: The rookie wide receiver caught seven passes for 110 yards with three receiving touchdowns on Sunday, adding another touchdown via the rush, becoming the first on the team to score four touchdowns in a game since Roy Jefferson in 1968.
Sure, let’s go with the obvious. Chase Claypool’s stock is up. He’s getting plenty of national media attention in the days after he accomplished the rare feat of scoring four touchdowns in one single game, something that typically only happens a few times per decade.
And he did it in the fourth game of his career. His five total touchdowns on the season would be the second-most from scrimmage on last year’s team. James Conner had four rushing and three receiving touchdowns in 2019. Diontae Johnson had five receiving touchdowns. Nobody else had more than three.
Each week, the Steelers are asking more out of Claypool and also getting more. He more than doubled his total number of targets, entering Sunday’s game with nine in the first three games before being targeted 11 times by Ben Roethlisberger.
And he converted on third down six times, including his game-sealing 35-yard touchdown with a little over three minutes to play, which came on third and eight. They gave him a sweep on third and two, which he converted. His earlier 32-yard touchdown came on third and six.
At 6’4”, 234 pounds, and with 4.42 speed, there are not many places on the field the Steelers are unwilling to move the big man around to. He plays outside, and increasingly, he plays in the slot as well. He can block, as he has shown.
Even though he is making big plays, however, the most impressive thing to me remains the fact that the Steelers keep coming to him on possession downs and he keeps coming through. This has been happening since the opener when they gave him a sweep on a 4th-and-1 play to seal it—and he did.