Despite the Pittsburgh Steelers poor performance this season on the offensive side of the football, Chase Claypool is turning some heads at NFL.com as a slot receiver.
In an article on NFL.com by their Next Gen Stats Analytics Team, Claypool was ranked as the eighth-best slot receiver in the NFL this season. Explaining the ranking, the article says Claypool has aligned in the slot 81% of the time and notes:
“From the slot, Claypool ranks fourth among wide receivers with 22 such receptions in 2022.”
The Analytics team also noted that last year Claypool lined up on the outside on at least 70% of snaps, compared to this year where he’s lined up on the outside only on 19% of snaps.
Claypool is a mismatch in the slot and him playing there is one thing offensive coordinator Matt Canada has gotten right this season. From the slot, according to Sports Information Solutions, Claypool has 23 receptions for 225 yards, and has caught one of the two touchdowns Steelers wide receivers have hauled in this season.
Claypool has always worked well in the slot, as he has size mismatch on small corners and a speed mismatch on linebackers which helps him get open much easier than he can on the outside. Last season Claypool’s best game came against the Denver Broncos when he took over the slot wide receiver position for an injured JuJu Smith-Schuster. In that game he caught five passes for 130 yards and a touchdown, helping the Steelers secure a 27-19 victory.
Claypool has had an up and down career in Pittsburgh and has been in the news recently in trade rumors. However, with the way he has been playing recently, it is hard to imagine Omar Khan and Mike Tomlin wanting to trade the third-year wide receiver. With Calvin Austin III going on season-ending IR, the Steelers’ wide receiver corps are not as deep as people may have thought going into the season. The best course of action is to give rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett the best weapons possible as he continues to adjust to the speed and talent of the NFL.