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 become the first Steelers rookie to ever record 1000 receiving yards.
Explanation: Only three players in Steelers history have ever accumulated 1000 yards from scrimmage as a rookie. All of them were running backs. The first to do it was Franco Harris, the most recent Le’Veon Bell. JuJu Smith-Schuster set the team rookie receiving record in 2017 with 917 yards. Jimmy Orr in 1958 also had 910. Claypool currently has 261 yards through the first quarter of the season.
Considering that he was able to get a quarter of the way there through the first quarter of his rookie season, Claypool has pretty good odds of getting all the way. You would expect his start to be the slowest as he adjusts to life in the NFL and in the Steelers’ offense and builds up a rapport with Ben Roethlisberger.
He’s already accomplished that pretty effectively and carved you a working relationship that has seen him targeted 20 times in four games, with an upward trajectory for more targets as the season progresses. Coming off a huge game, Roethlisberger is only going to look for him more and more.
He’ll even have a shot at breaking the rookie yards from scrimmage record, which Franco Harris owns. He rushed for 1055 yards in 1972 and added 180 receiving yards, settling at 1235 yards from scrimmage.
Four games is a small sample size, and we should probably stop crowning people prematurely, as we did with Benny Snell following the season opener and Anthony McFarland in the third game of the season. Claypool is coming off a 100-yard game. That doesn’t mean he’ll have another one this season. He’s played so much because Diontae Johnson has missed most of the past two games, and stepped up to fill that void.
He is on everybody’s radar now. Every single team is going to come down hard on him because of that. He was getting out his meme game following his four-touchdown performance and doing the media rounds and ads for Snickers. There’s no way he’s catching anybody else off-guard for the rest of his career. Now he has to begin the process of adjusting to that attention.