The Pittsburgh Steelers may be able to get some significant use out of their rookies in 2020. Here’s who could see the most action against the New York Giants in Week 1.
Trial by fire isn’t always the best way to get rookies acclimated to NFL-level play. Historically, the Pittsburgh Steelers were always a team that would essentially redshirt their rookies and play them only on special teams, as to not add too much to their plates at once.
However, that trend has changed in recent years. In 2017, T.J. Watt became an instant starter for the team as a rookie despite having Bud Dupree and James Harrison on the team. In 2018, Terrell Edmunds starter from the gate as a rookie; even though many draft analysts believed he should have been taken in the second or third round.
This year is different for several reasons. Not only are the Steelers without a first-round draft choice, but they also missed out on what would have been five preseason games in 2020. Still, there is reason to believe that some Pittsburgh rookies will be given ample chance to shine this year.
Which Steelers rookie will earn the most playing time?
To the surprise of many, this Steelers rookie class has drawn a lot of buzz throughout training camp. Chase Claypool is a name fans aren’t too shocked to see mentioned. Though he just the 11th receiver taken in the 2020 NFL Draft, he has a remarkably rare combination of size (6’4”, 238 pounds) and speed (4.42-second 40-yard dash).
Since the beginning of camp, Claypool has drawn praise from both coaches and players. Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden spoke praises about Claypool’s ability to rise up and catch the ball earlier in training camp, while JuJu Smith-Schuster labeled Claypool as his training camp ‘standout’ in a recent interview with myself.
Remarkably, Claypool isn’t guaranteed to play the most snaps against the Giants in Week 1. There are a few others in the running as well.
Third-round pick, Alex Highsmith, has recently been rumored to have a shot at being the first edge defender off the bench for the Steelers as early as Week 1. His only competition for this spot will be with third-year player, Ola Adeniyi.
In addition, speedster running back, Anthony McFarland, has been turning heads all training camp with his remarkable speed. Zach Banner recently mentioned McFarland as a player who stood out to him on offense this training camp.
But that’s not all. Even fourth-round offensive guard, Kevin Dotson, is in the running for some playing time as early as Week 1 against the Giants. With David DeCastro missing time with an injury, Dotson has earned some first-team reps with the Steelers.
While all of these players will have a chance to see a few snaps from the gate, my money would still be on Chase Claypool earning the most looks in New York to start the season. He’s been the most talked-about Steelers rookie this training camp, and he has a chance to be a stud in special teams coverage.
It will be interesting to see at which point these Steelers rookies get heavily involved, but it looks like they all may see the field more than we initially anticipated in 2020.