Steelers wide receiver Chase Claypool has endured a rocky career already, just two years in. He got off to a blistering start in his rookie season, as he had 62 catches for 873 yards and nine touchdowns. Those numbers were achieved in just six starts out of the 16 games he played in, along with Diontae Johnson and JuJu Smith-Schuster taking up targets alongside him. Claypool was already viewed as one of the better young wideouts in football heading into his second season.
His sophomore season ended up being a bit disappointing, as he failed to take that next step forward. Despite starting in seven more games, Claypool’s catches, yards, catch percentage, and touchdowns all saw a decline (albeit a small decline). When Smith-Schuster went down with a severe shoulder injury, many expected Claypool to step up in a big way.
Now, this upcoming season, his third in the NFL, will be a huge testament to the kind of player he is. Claypool has remained confident in his abilities though and will have an opportunity to re-prove himself as the primary No. 2 now. He showed that confidence in a recent appearance on the “I Am Athlete” podcast featuring former NFL stars Brandon Marshall, Adam “Pacman” Jones, and LeSean “Shady” McCoy.
I’m gonna be better this year. I know for a fact, I’m not like the rest of the guys in the NFL. I’m a top-five receiver. I know I’m a top-three receiver.
Before anyone is quick to bash Claypool, isn’t this the kind of mindset that you want out of your players? Particularly for wide receivers, confidence is huge and that’s clearly something he isn’t lacking. Now, will this talk translate to the field? Only time will tell. From a fan’s perspective, obviously he’s nowhere near the conversation for top wideouts in the NFL. He’s not even the best on his own team, as we know Johnson takes that title.
The former Notre Dame WR went through quite a bit of criticism from fans in 2021. Claypool’s long been known for his ability to go up and get the ball, and that aspect of his game was a bit off last year. Whether it be due to a lack of concentration or defenders making plays, he left quite a bit of big plays on the field. Situationally, he seemed to lack focus late in games at times as well. His TikToks even got fans riled up, similar to the tune of JuJu Smith-Schuster’s dances. If he can reach his on-field ability though, the hatred for his dances will surely diminish.
I was playing my best football when I was making TikToks. As soon as I stopped, we started losing.
What are your stat predictions for the Steelers WRs?
Claypool was playful about it and meant no harm by his comments, and he’s right in a way. When guys like Smith-Schuster and Claypool are told to stop being themselves, it takes some away from who they are. The off-the-field criticisms of Claypool seemed to be a bit excessive, at times, in 2021. The Steelers brought in some reinforcements at WR in the draft, as George Pickens and Calvin Austin III figure to play big roles in the team’s offense this year. Another disappointing season, and Claypool could be on his way out of Pittsburgh with those talented guys ready to take over his position.
What are your thoughts on Claypool this season? Are you optimistic that he will turn things around this season and live up to his potential? Drop your predictions on what Claypool’s numbers will be in 2022, yards and TDs, in the comment section below!