Steelers Joe Haden praises rookie WR Chase Claypool in training camp

Chase Claypool of Notre Dame (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Chase Claypool of Notre Dame (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Chase Claypool obviously has a rare blend of size and speed for the wide receiver position. Here’s why he’s already drawing praise from a Steelers Pro Bowler.

Thanks to an obviously successful trade early last season that allowed the Steelers to grab safety, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Pittsburgh was without a first-round draft choice in 2020. However, that doesn’t mean that their second-round pick couldn’t turn out to be a beat for this team.

Chase Claypool is an extremely rare breed of athlete, measuring in at 6’4” and weighing 238 pounds. But his sheer size isn’t what makes your jaw drop; it’s pairing that will 4.42 speed and a 40.5” vertical jump. While many questioned whether or not Claypool was over-drafted based on his impressive physique and athletic traits, the young receiver is doing his best to put those rumors to bed.

Recently, Steelers Pro Bowl cornerback, Joe Haden, spoke to the media regarding his attempt to cover the big wideout in Pittsburgh’s first padded practice. Here’s what Haden had to say, according to DK Pittsburgh Sports’, Dale Lolley:

"“It was just back shoulder fade in the end zone from the 2. I was underneath of it, it was back shoulder, so I tried to play through the hands. He just kept it in his hands. He didn’t let me knock it out. It wasn’t even just that play, he’s had a couple of plays on me in this camp. I’ve lined up against him pretty often. He’s a big, fast receiver. He’s able to adjust to the ball in the air. He hasn’t shown me anything too bad. He’s been able to be a big body, a deep threat with soft hands and can jump up and get it. As long as he stays healthy, I think he’s going to be a problem."

Haden continued to say that Claypool ‘impressed’ him with his size, speed, and ability to adjust to the ball in the air. This is something we saw on display often at Notre Dame.

Will the Steelers rookie contribute in 2020?

With just 14 padded practices in a rather unusual training camp this year, will the rookie wide receiver be able to step and contribute in 2020?

This is the question that will need to be answered. With just 16-game seasons in the NFL, coaches can ill-afford to put the game in the hands of an inexperienced rookie unless there are no other options. Fortunately, Steelers have those options.

Though their receiving corps is young, it already consisted of three rising young players in JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, and James Washington. In addition, veteran tight ends Eric Ebron and Vance McDonald will offer additional assistance in the passing game.

With a deep group of pass-catchers, I expect Claypool’s role to be very limited to start his rookie season, and his impact on offense could remain minimal throughout 2020 as long as Pittsburgh’s receivers stay healthy.

However, Mike Tomlin will certainly find a way to use his new toy this year. That will likely come on special teams coverage – an area that he was so good at in college. With a tall, powerful frame and terrific speed, Claypool was often the first player down the field in special teams coverage at Notre Dame, and he certainly isn’t lacking in the physicality department.

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It remains to be seen how Chase Claypool will be used in 2020, but it’s always good when a three-time Pro Bowler can give a rookie praise after just one padded practice. If Claypool continues to impress at this rate, it will be hard to keep him off the field – even without preseason games to get him ready for his first season.