Chase Claypool isn’t saying playing in the NFL is easy. But he admits it’s easier than what he was led to believe. It helps when you’re 6’4, 220, and run in the low 4.4’s. Coming off a season where he set the Steelers’ rookie record for receptions, Claypool reflected on his first year in Pittsburgh in an interview on Mark Sanchez’s show, 4th And Forever.
“Not that it was easy,” Claypool said of playing in the NFL, “but that it wasn’t as hard as I had expected to be in terms of being a big adjustment like [it was] from high school to college. Knowing that if you do your part, you can actually have a pretty significant outcome in the game. Making a third down catch or a fourth down conversion or a touchdown that could really swing things.”
Claypool certainly did his part. He finished the season with 62 receptions for 873 yards and 11 total touchdowns. The receptions broke Troy Edwards’ 20 year mark while his touchdowns tied Franco Harris and Louis Lipps for the franchise record. His numbers will likely jolt up a couple notches in 2021, especially if the Steelers don’t re-sign JuJu Smith-Schuster.
His breakout and biggest game came in Week 5 against the Philadelphia Eagles, catching seven passes for 110 yards and three touchdowns with another touchdown on the ground. Claypool talked about his emotions during that game.
“I think the highlight of that game for me was seeing how excited all my teammates were. You have a rookie coming in, scoring all these touchdowns and you could have some guys on the team who don’t get excited, who are kinda upset about the situation. But everyone on the team was just happy for me. And I think that’s what I remember.”
In Matt Canada’s offense, Claypool could become an even more integral part. Previously coached teams under Canada featured plenty of WR jets and running plays. The Steelers showed some of that for the first half of 2020, especially in short-yardage/goal line, but got away from it by the end of the season. Claypool, for example, had nine carries his first nine games. He had just one over the final seven.
Given the track Claypool is on, he should easily surpass 1000 yards during his sophomore year. Something like an 80 catch, 1100 yard, ten total touchdown season is a definite possibility and would make for one of the most successful first two seasons in team history.