The Steelers elected to take a wide receiver with their first selection in the 2020 NFL Draft. Here’s why Claypool probably wasn’t their first choice.
Throughout the draft process, just about every position you can think of has been mocked to the Steelers in the second round. Defensive tackle was among the most popular pick, and many thought they would go that route early. However, the closer we got to the 2020 NFL, the more it seemed like the Steelers were bound for a skill player.
In fact, on the morning of day one of the draft, I wrote about why the Steelers are targeting a running back or wide receiver with their first selection. All signs seemed to be pointing that way, and trying to find Ben Roethlisberger another weapon in a closing Super Bowl window is something that could help the team out right away.
Between running back and receiver, the Steelers clearly were targeting the latter. J.K. Dobbins and Cam Akers were both ripe for the picking when pick 49 rolled around. Both players check practically every box the Steelers look for at the running back position and most believed that Dobbins wasn’t going to fall that far.
This leads us to the wide receiver position. However, there are several reasons why I have a really hard time believing that Chase Claypool was near the top of Pittsburgh’s wishlist at pick 49.
Brooke Pryor, who covers the Steelers for ESPN, labeled Jalen Reagor, Michael Pittman, and K.J. Hamler ‘ideal’ prospects just two days before the draft kicked off. Reagor ended up going in the first round to the Eagles, and another run on wide receivers early in the second round swept Pittman and Hamler off the board before Pittsburgh had a shot at them.
After being selected by the Steelers in the second round, Claypool admitted being surprised. He said he didn’t know Pittsburgh had an interest in drafting him because he hadn’t talked to any of their staff since the Senior Bowl.
If the Steelers really did have interest all along, why didn’t they reach out to him at least once over the past two months? It’s not like Claypool was a player that was expected to be long gone before their pick at 49. In fact, a consensus big board comprised of the rankings of 25 draft experts showed that the average ranking of Claypool was 62nd overall.
The fact of the matter is that the Steelers narrowed in on the wide receiver position and took, who they believed, was the best available receiver on the board.
I’m not saying that I hate the pick or that Chase Claypool won’t prove to be worth the 49th overall pick in the daft. I’m just saying that the Steelers went into the draft wanting a receiver early, but Claypool probably isn’t the player they were expecting to get.