The Steelers landed one of the NFL Draft’s most athletic receivers in the second round, but did a great NFL Combine elevate Chase Claypool’s stock too high?
Let me start by saying that I didn’t hate the Chase Claypool pick for the Steelers in the second round. Outside of their top three wide receivers, Pittsburgh had perhaps the worst depth in the league at the position with just Deon Cain and Ryan Switzer set to return from their 2019 roster.
However, was it possible that Claypool’s impressive NFL Combine numbers elevated his draft stock a bit too high?
As a receiver, there are still a lot of things Claypool needs to work on. He’s not a refined route runner and he fails to create much separation in and out of his breaks. This is something that he will need to improve at the next level if he doesn’t want every catch to be contested. Though there’s no lack of effort in his game, Claypool needs to work on snapping in and out of his routes if he wants to be able to get open consistently.
While these are things he could certainly improve on as he continues to grow and develop, he’s still very much a projection. Let’s admit, his impressive Combine numbers were hard to ignore. At 6’4” and 238 pounds, Claypool ran a blazing 4.42-second 40-yard dash and added amazing explosion with a 40.5” vertical and 126” broad jump. These aren’t numbers that come around every year for a player of his size.
Admittedly, there’s no denying Claypool’s upside, but very few analysts had him as a second-round draft choice prior to the NFL Combine. When the Steelers took Claypool at pick 49, there were dozens of players still on the board who the Steelers could have justified spending a mid-second-round pick on. Among them were a pair of wide receivers.
Denzel Mims and Bryand Edwards were both more compete for receiver prospects entering the draft than Claypool, and their ability to win as an outside receiver trumps the Notre Dame product. In addition, Mims tested as an incredible athlete for the position, and there are rumors that Edwards would have tested out good as well.
According to our consensus draft board, comprised of the rankings of 25 draft analysts, Claypool averaged out as the 62nd overall prospect in the draft with an average rank position of 69.2. Credible draft analysts like Dane Brugler, Mike Renner, Todd McShay, and Daniel Jeremiah all had Chase Claypool ranked between their 64th and 72nd best player in the draft. Other analysts like Kyle Crabbs and Tony Pauline were much lower on him.
Every draft board is different, I believe that the Steelers had them high on their board, but according to consensus rankings, most prominent draft analysts viewed Claypool as a bit of a reach with the 49th overall pick this year. Fortunately, this means nothing until he showcases his talent on the football field.