Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Chase Claypool is having himself a fine rookie season by any measure. Through 10 games, he is on pace to set franchise records, currently at 39 receptions for 559 yards and eight receiving touchdowns (10 from scrimmage).
A 6’4”, 234-pounder out of Notre Dame, the second-round pick has made at least one or two notable plays in just about every game that he has played so far, whether it’s a big explosive play, a touchdown, or a key conversion on a possession down.
Has it been a difficult transition from him going from the college level to the pros—especially considering the fact that he is Canadian, and thus played his high school ball outside of the usual recruiting areas? His numbers and his performance would naturally suggest otherwise.
“You never really are able to picture something like this, but I expected to have success just based off training and how I felt about myself and my preparation”, he said yesterday. “I definitely thought the transition would be a little bit longer”.
That might sound cocky, especially if you don’t listen to the interview, but really, it is very reminiscent of a rookie T.J. Watt, who simply was brimming with confidence and belief in himself, that he possessed the innate talent to succeed if only he were to marry that with the work ethic and knowledge required to make him a complete and elite player. We see how that’s worked out.
And like Watt, though both were drafted in the top 50 picks, each had a number of players at their position drafted ahead of them. While there have been some quality performers, as should go without saying, both have outperformed, at least to date, the majority of those whom other teams decided were a better fit for their team.
10 wide receivers, if memory serves, were drafted ahead of Claypool by the time he was taken 49th overall by the Steelers. As we stand here today, though, he ranks fourth among rookies in receptions, fifth in receiving yards, and first (by far) in receiving touchdowns. He’s also 11th in yards per reception, or eighth among those with at least 10 catches.
“I don’t really compare stats that much”, he said in speaking of his fellow draft classmates. “If I’m comparing anything, it’s team records, and that speaks louder than stats in my opinion. I’ve got all of them so far, and we’ll see how the rest of the season plays out”.
His Steelers, of course, are 10-0. Justin Jefferson, CeeDee Lamb, Jerry Jeudy, Tee Higgins, Jalen Raegor, Brandon Aiyuk, and most of the receivers drafted ahead of him are all on losing teams. Henry Ruggs and Michael Pittman are on the most accomplished teams, but they are not contributing enormously to their efforts.