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: Following the regular season finale, head coach Mike Tomlin said that it was their plan to feature the rookie wide receiver in that game in preparation for basically unleashing him in the postseason. He figures to have no limitations today against the Cleveland Browns.
While rookie wide receiver Chase Claypool spent the final several weeks of the regular season having his snaps ‘managed’ slightly—basically, playing 65 percent of the snaps instead of 75-80 percent—he still found opportunities to contribute.
It’s somewhat ironic that he only played 35 snaps in the finale against the Browns and yet had one of his biggest games of the season, finishing with five catches for 101 yards and a touchdown, but the only reason that his snap count was down was because he got nicked a couple of times.
There have been no indications throughout the work week that he is in any way experiences any effects from the nicks that he took from that game. And now that we are in the postseason, we are past the point of any teams holding anything back.
That means the Steelers should figure to feature the rookie wide receiver as much today as they have in any other game this season—provided that he makes his opportunities count, of course. And the Browns’ banged up secondary certainly makes this an inviting proposition.
Claypool set or tied a couple of team rookie records with 62 receptions and nine receiving touchdowns—11 total touchdowns—while also threatening the team’s rookie record in receiving yards. He has made some big plays down the field, and even more when you count defensive pass interference penalties drawn. He needs to be the deep offense for the Steelers today.