The Pittsburgh Steelers probably didn’t expect to get as many contributions from their rookie class than they have, let alone having all of their rookie class actually make the 53-man roster (eventually). All six members of their draft class have dressed and played in games, with three of them starting, and two are currently in the starting lineup.
The headliner of the class has been, of course, second-round wide receiver Chase Claypool, who was the 49th-overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. It didn’t take him long for him to make an impact, his first-ever NFL touch being an impressive 28-yard deep sideline catch, and capping off the game with a 4th-and-1 end around for the game-sealing first down.
He followed that up with a highlight-reel 84-yard touchdown, which remains the longest passing play of the entire season. Then a couple of weeks later, he went off with seven catches for 110 yards and three receiving touchdowns, plus another rushing touchdown.
He ended up scoring 10 total touchdowns over the course of his first 10 games, which tied a rookie record. Though he hasn’t gotten back into the end zone since then, he has had an impressive rookie season overall. He recently reflected on his accomplishments while appearing on Bud Dupree’s show through the team’s website, Bud Brought a Buddy.
“It’s definitely crazy. It’s not something that you think about too much, but it’s been a fun ride”, he said. “But as you come to learn in the league, it doesn’t really matter what you did last week, because you could have a bad game next week, or a good game, and all anyone will talk about is that game that you just played. And then it’s forgotten. It’s cool, definitely, looking back, but it’s not something that I’m gonna hang my hat on”.
So far this season, Claypool has caught 53 passes for 718 yards, with eight receiving touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns, for 10 in total. The franchise rookie record for touchdowns is 11, so if he scores one more, he will tie that record. He needs seven receptions to pass Diontae Johnson’s rookie receptions record as well.
Though one can argue that he has trailed off in recent weeks—his snap count had also intentionally been scaled back, according to head coach Mike Tomlin—there is no denying that he has been an impressive player with the promise of possibly being a star down the road.
But he already knows the nature of the game. It’s what have you done for me lately. The Steelers haven’t done much for anyone lately, so that has to change. Perhaps Claypool finding the end zone again can help change that.