The Pittsburgh Steelers feel as though they have a budding star in their midst in Chase Claypool, but that that is taking them by surprise. There is a reason that they drafted him in the top 50 this year, after all. Following his big game against the Philadelphia Eagles, however, the rest of the league will be paying attention to him as well.
Claypool isn’t the first big and fast wide receiver to sort of take the league by storm as a rookie for the Steelers. Martavis Bryant was inactive the first six games of his rookie season, but once he got on the field, he came out like gangbusters, scoring six touchdowns in his first four games—though he would only add two more over the final six weeks.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was asked on Wednesday if he sees any comparisons between the two players, though he only offered the obvious that anybody with eyes could see. “There’s a lot of comparisons. They’re both wide receivers, they’re both tall, they’re both fast”, he said.
While he did not dismiss the request for comparison, he didn’t seem to be particularly excited about likening his current wide receiver to his former teammate. He was more interested in focusing in on Claypool and what comes next for the young man.
“We are happy that Chase is coming along. He is an awesome football player and had a great week”, Roethlisberger said. “The thing I told him after the game is he isn’t going to be able to sneak up on anybody, so how is he going to rise to the occasion now that people are going to be watching him?”.
I think that’s the question a lot of Steelers fans are asking right now. It’s highly likely that Claypool never scores four touchdowns in a game again. It’s a pretty rare occurrence as it is, and hasn’t happened in Pittsburgh since 1968 before Sunday’s game.
But he has been making clutch plays since the season opener. Was part of that because nobody had a scouting report on him yet, and felt the need to pay especial attention to him? His 84-yard touchdown in week two was an eye-opener, but also, seemingly, a one-off. He had just one touch the following week.
Then he had 10 touches on Sunday, for over 100 yards, and four scores. It will be difficult for the Steelers to keep him off the field at this point, but that is provided that he continues to produce when given the opportunity to do so.
This is still a deep wide receiver group with JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, and James Washington. Claypool is already showing to be something more than a luxury, establishing him as a feature rather than a complement, but they are also approaching his maturation with that understanding in mind.