Steelers Draft: Was WR Denzel Mims a better option than Chase Claypool at pick 49?

Denzel Mims was ripe for the picking with the 49th selection in the NFL Draft. Did the Steelers make the wrong decision by going with Chase Claypool?

The Steelers had a decision to make when they were on the clock at pick 49 overall. There were a handful of players at a number of different positions who you could have argued were certainly worth that selection. Ultimately, they went with NFL Combine stud, Chase Claypool.

I don’t mean that as a knock to him, but Claypool probably isn’t a player that ends up going in the second round if it wasn’t for a miraculous performance at the Combine this offseason. At 6’4” and 238 pounds, Claypool ran a blazing 4.42 40-yard dash with a vertical jump of 40.5” and a broad jump of 126”. But this wasn’t always evident when you watched the tape.

Yes, Claypool could climb the latter to make the catch on any given throw, but he didn’t play with ‘burner’ speed like his 40 time would indicate. Claypool’s biggest knock in college, however, was his inability to create consistent separation.

Because of this, most draft experts agreed that Denzel Mims was the better draft prospect between the two. Mims doesn’t have as much size as Claypool (6’3”, 207), but that certainly isn’t an issue. He also tested out very similar to Claypool. He even recorded a 6.66 3-cone drill (90th percentile) – a drill that Claypool elected to skip.

But the case for Denzel Mims stretches beyond size and athleticism. Mims is a better route runner than Claypool and creates much more separation in and out of his breaks. He was widely regarded as the best receiver at the Senior Bowl this year, and he broke out at a significantly younger age than Claypool in college.

All of these factors led to Mims being ranked 32nd on a consensus draft board comprised of the rankings of 25 draft experts. In comparison, Claypool was ranked 62nd overall.

Because of the way they won in college, Claypool projects best as a big slot in the NFL, while Mims projects as an outside ‘X’ receiver – something NFL teams typically value more.

There is no denying Claypool’s talent, and he has continued to improve each and every season. At the same time, it’s understandable to want a player like Mims at pick 49 due to his traits, film, and upside as a number one wide receiver in the NFL. Many experts compared Mims to DeAndre Hopkins because of his physicality at the catch point and his ‘go get it’ attitude.

Perhaps a hand injury he suffered in college left teams questioning Mims’ medicals, or the Steelers spent more time scouting Claypool. It’s far too early to say which was the right move.

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Both of these players still need to play a few years before we can properly assess them, but there’s no question Mims was the more highly-regarded wide receiver in media circles. Let’s hope the Steelers prove they made the right decision with this pick.

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