With the 2022 new league year, the questions will be plenty for quite a while, even as the Pittsburgh Steelers spend cash and cap space and use draft picks in an effort to find answers. We don’t know who the quarterback is going to be yet—even if we have a good idea. How will the offensive line be formulated? How will the secondary develop amid changes, including to the coaching staff? What does Teryl Austin bring to the table—and Brian Flores? What will Matt Canada’s offense look like absent Ben Roethlisberger?
These sorts of uncertainties are 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).
Topic Statement: Chase Claypool will have a convincing bounceback season in 2022 after disappointing a year ago.
Explanation: Chase Claypool looked like the next great Steelers’ find at wide receiver as a rookie in 2020, but the truth is that his instant success negatively colored what we saw from him last year. Outside of his lack of scoring, his first two seasons were not significantly distinguishable. But the fact is, he did not take that crucial next step in his game—which he can do this year.
There is no compelling reason to believe that Claypool isn’t every bit as talented as we thought he was a year from now. He did not have the best follow-up season imaginable, but he’s also right when he talks about the fact that he didn’t play anywhere close to terrible last year.
There were some plays that he didn’t make last year that he ordinarily would make. He is training hard this offseason on his consistency to make sure that he does that. I’m also encouraged by his acknowledgement of his need to keep his feet, and by his willingness to move around the field and adapt to different roles, which will allow him to be less predictable in his repertoire and more difficult to defend.
Will he score more than he did a year ago? Well, he would almost have to. He only scored two touchdowns, and the second one was almost an afterthought late in the season. Will he be significantly better a player in 2022 than he was in 2021? No, he won’t.
Has he gotten any faster this last year? Has he grown more able to create separation? No, he hasn’t. Maybe he can make up some ground by spending some more time in the slot and taking advantage of the mismatches that that can present, but I don’t think anybody is going to be pushing him into the Pro Bowl. He is and will be a fine player, but he is who he is by now, and may even be overtaken by George Pickens this year.