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Graziano: ‘Don’t Be Surprised’ If Steelers WR Chase Claypool Is A Breakout Star In 2022

In a new-look offense under second-year offensive coordinator Matt Canada with the Pittsburgh Steelers, one young player on a loaded offense at the skill positions could have a major breakout season, according to ESPN NFL Insider Dan Graziano.

That player? Third-year wide receiver Chase Claypool.

On a roster featuring Diontae Johnson and emerging standout rookie George Pickens, not to mention second-year star running back Najee Harris and second-year standout tight end Pat Freiermuth, as well as highly-hyped rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett, Claypool is the one who could benefit the most and truly break out in his third season, putting a frustrating second season in 2021 behind him.

Fully focused and potentially moving into the slot to take better advantage of his physical traits has Graziano believing Claypool could bust out in a big way in the Steel City.

“Diontae Johnson is the reliable No. 1 in the receiving corps, and the offseason hype about rookie George Pickens is legit — he really has impressed the coaching staff at every turn. But don’t forget about Claypool, whose physical gifts make him a mismatch when they use him in the slot and, honestly, all over the field,” Graziano writes for ESPN in his latest piece predicting potential 2022 surprises for all 32 teams on ESPN.com. “Whether it’s Mitch Trubisky, Kenny Pickett or both at QB for the Steelers this year, Claypool has a chance to be a difference-making target who can win on 50-50 balls and be a major factor in the red zone.”

With plenty of weapons around him and some changes under center, things could really open up for Claypool in his third season, especially as Canada expands his playbook further after being a bit handicapped last season, if we’re being honest.

Of course, the playbook can be opened all it wants, and Claypool can get all the opportunities in the world he could want. He has to deliver on them though, which he struggled to do throughout the 2021 season, especially in combated catch situations. That’s where he’ll need to make the biggest improvement in 2022.

In preseason action against the Jaguars, he got off to a strong start in that department with a 22-yard catch through contact on a slot fade from Mitch Trubisky. It is certainly exciting to think about Claypool being that big slot this season, which could lead to a breakout as Graziano predicts. Time will tell.

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