Grading Steelers stellar rookies halfway through 2020 season
Chase Claypool has been the crown jewel of this draft class, and it isn’t even close. The rookie wideout has put the NFL on alert and a plethora of franchises are kicking themselves for not picking him in the draft. While his metrics were always impressive, his college tape made him seem like more of a work in progress. All signs pointed to him being a red zone contributor his rookie year and not much more due to the crowded nature of the position.
Then, the Steelers played the Eagles, and Claypool showed just what kind of a dynamic player he can be. He scored all over the field, on short passes, sweeps, and by simply using his outstanding athleticism to beat defenders. While he hasn’t had another game quite like that, he has still been a constant threat in the offense, more or less replacing James Washington as the Z receiver. He has already caught 23 passes for 375 yards and 5 scores (plus two more as a rusher).
This doesn’t even mention the work he has done as a special teams’ gunner, where he has accumulated five total tackles. While he is playing too well on offense to warrant him playing as many special teams’ snaps, he has still been impressive there. Every time he is on the field he seems to make a big play. It was hard to imagine him having this many receptions and yards throughout the entire season, let alone through the first half.
Thus, Claypool has earned the highest grade as the rookies. Even if those stats dip a little over the latter half of the season, he has still done enough to earn an A. His path to playing wasn’t clear, but through his talent and determination, he has become a go-to weapon for the Steelers. He has a bright future in the league and considering his natural traits, he could be in the conversation as one of the best receivers in the league sooner than later.
While the free-agent additions have contributed less so, the rookie class looks like a promising one. Besides the two late-round picks that have struggled to see the field, the Steelers have gotten some sort of contribution out of each of their rookies this year. While these grades may change by the year’s end, there is no denying just how dominant this group has been so far.