The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Notre Dame receiver Chase Claypool with the 49 overall pick in Round 2 of the 2020 NFL Draft. Claypool’s draft stock was boosted by a stellar performance at the NFL Scouting Combine, which helped validate the on-field production he had over his last two seasons in South Bend.
Claypool enters a situation in Pittsburgh that should allow him to carve out a role in the offense immediately. The Steelers have plenty of deep threats and shifty route runners on the wide receiver depth chart. What they did not have until Claypool’s arrival was a 6’4”, big bodied receiver who wins nearly every jump ball in the red zone.
Irish fans know that Claypool can do more than be a valuable target in the red zone. He runs routes like a slot receiver and can catch screens and get the ball upfield as if he was 190 pounds as opposed to the 230+ pounds he walks around at. We could even see the Steelers line him up at tight end in certain looks.
He’ll also likely find a role on special teams as a rookie – something we saw him excel at in college.
As far as competition on the receiver depth chart, there are only three veterans currently slotted ahead of him at the positions in which he’ll see playing time. That means, counting the slot receiver, Claypool will start camp at worst as the fifth receiver option in the passing game. Look for him to jump veteran Deon Cain either in camp or early in the year, guaranteeing himself a spot on the field when the Steelers go four-wide in the passing attack and anytime they look to pass in the red zone.
Two of those other two receivers ahead of Claypool at listed at 5-10 and 5-11, and their games are quite different from what he brings to the offense.
As far as projecting the numbers he’ll post in 2020, that gets tricky. The last time Ben Roethlisberger was completely healthy and played an entire season, the No. 4 man on the receiver depth chart was targeted 38 times. Given the different ways we expect Claypool to be used, I’d expect him to be targeted at least 45 times, catching anywhere around 30 passes for 400 yards and five or six touchdowns.
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