Chase Claypool has a knack for scoring touchdowns. In his final season at Notre Dame, the wide receiver recorded nine touchdowns in his last five games. Claypool has carried that success to the NFL, scoring 10 total touchdowns in his first 10 games with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Claypool’s ascension has a lot to do with the literal power he carries. The 6-foot-4, 238-pound receiver can mow through defenders, evade coverage, and score touchdowns at a historic pace while double-teamed or triple-teamed. It’s part of the reason why Pittsburgh is the league’s only undefeated team and the sole reason why Claypool should be one of the leading contenders for Offensive Rookie of the Year.
His efforts have led him to multiple records, and in the Steelers’ most recent win, a 27-3 throttling of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Claypool’s 31-yard score made him the first receiver in the Super Bowl era (and fourth in NFL history) to have at least 10 touchdowns in their first 10 games; that, coupled with at least three other receivers having a minimum of four touchdowns, has the Steelers scoring the fourth-most points (29.8) league-wide.
“Sometimes you get big receivers that don’t high point a ball, reach up and grab it. He does that,” Roethlisberger said last month, via The Athletic. “He knows how to use his hands. I think he is gaining knowledge and understanding of route running and how to get open at the top of routes. I know he kind of had that crazy offensive pass interference call a couple of weeks ago, but it’s those kinds of moments that he knows when to use his hands and when not to and how to get open.”
It’s nearly a perfect match. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger likes big-bodied pass-catchers and Claypool loves being on the receiving end of a long fling downfield. Each player has complemented each other as Pittsburgh charges toward another Super Bowl appearance.
Claypool knows Roethlisberger is going to put the ball where he wants it, and, in turn, Roethlisberger knows Claypool will catch it. The Steelers are playing the best situational football right now, and while each game isn’t pretty (or a blowout), they know who to line up to execute a win. Claypool will give thanks to the passer and he’s not wrong, but Claypool remains a big reason for Roethlisberger’s strong numbers.
Claypool may fall behind other receivers from his class in terms of receptions and yards with 39 catches for 559 yards, but his ability to score and passer rating when targeted bests the rest of the 2020 class.
He was ranked the No. 2 rookie wide receiver by The Draft Network with scout Brentley Weissman giving this take:
Claypool has proven to be more than just a physical freak and has shown to be a truly special football player. He has the speed to beat defenders down the field vertically and has the size and strength to play the ball in the air. Extremely physical and tough, the Steelers will give him the ball on end arounds just to get the ball in his hands and let him make something happen. Claypool has far and away the most upside physically in this class, and it is great to see him playing at such a high level so early on.
It makes the Steelers’ passing up on other highly-touted pass-catchers more reasonable as Claypool can exceed his value as a second-round pick. The Steelers have another star wide receiver, another young stud to brutalize defenses with. Claypool is doing a masterful job so far and with the Steelers showing little-to-no signs of slowing down, playing some of their most complete football over the last couple of weeks, Claypool can continue to be Roethlisberger’s go-to target.