The Steelers now have a source of depth at the receiver position with the addition of Chase Claypool in the 2020 NFL Draft. Each rookie holds high expectations when selected this high in the draft, especially at his position.
No matter what nickname you want to bestow for the young man out of Notre Dame, he must earn that nickname. With his physical projections being Calvin “Megatron” Johnson, expectations are at an all-time high. Steeler fans should be excited when it comes to this new talent, but should also taper some expectations going forward.
Claypool joins a now young and seasoned group on the team with top players like Juju Smith-Schuster, James Washington, and second-year man Diontae Johnson. Other names will be there behind Claypool on the depth chart, but playing time might be an interesting issue as the year comes closer. With the addition of Eric Ebron and the return of Vance McDonald, playing time might be limited, at least at the beginning of the year, for Claypool.
One extremely interesting thing GM Kevin Colbert pointed out was how impressed he was with Claypool’s great ability in special teams while in college. So go into the year, especially without many preseason preps for these rookies, with lowered expectations. Imagine special teams will be Claypool’s expertise at the start and slowly integrate him into the offense more and more as the season goes on.
With other options at the receiver and tight end positions, Claypool will be able to benefit by learning behind veteran receivers instead of learning on the go. Expect this with a lot of rookies around the league this year as many will not have time to learn offenses and other things that would benefit them with OTA’s (organized team activities) and team workouts. Instead, expect the slow integration of rookies into playing time while they perform on special teams and earn their stripes that way.
When Claypool begins entering the offensive side of the ball, he can be a huge red-zone target for Ben Roethlisberger. Imagine a red zone offense with two big targets like Claypool and Ebron matching up against the opposing defense and still having the physicality of Juju and the speed of Johnson.
Either way, it will be interesting how the Steelers create opportunities for Claypool to enter games while they have weapons like Washington, Johnson, and Juju. Difficult decisions like that will need to be made, but those are good problems to have when a team has too many weapons available for their returning franchise Quarterback.