Who Will be the Steelers No. 3 Wide Out?


By: Jonathan Clark


In drafting Notre Dame standout WR Chase Claypool 49th overall in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers are going into this season with one of the youngest wide receiving cores in the NFL. JuJu Smith-Schuster is entering his 4th year with the squad, Diontae Johnson is going into his second season, while James Washington is entering his third stint in black and gold. These three, along with the rookie Claypool, seem to be the “core four” of this team’s receiving crew.

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Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images


We should consider ourselves lucky. We have all of this young talent at the receiver position, with a future Hall of Fame quarterback behind center who immediately will make these receivers 10 times better. Obviously Ben Roethlisberger’s experience goes a long way in more ways than one, but as far as the receivers are concerned, Roethlisberger will put them in the spots that they need to be, not necessarily where they want to be. There are not too many quarterbacks who know what to do in those tough situations throughout a football game like Big Ben. Their success is completely imperative to each other. Seeing what this receiving core did last year without an experienced leader behind center, there is reason to believe that more success will come their way in 2020, but there are only so many starting spots at this position to give out. Smith-Schuster has all but locked up the starting WR1 spot on the depth chart and Diontae Johnson, in my opinion, opens up 2020 as the starting WR2. Does that mean that we will see competition for the WR3 spot? 


With the season he had last year, it would be easy to say that James Washington is the clear front runner to be alongside those two on Sundays. After struggling in his first two seasons, Washington made some splash plays last year, and finally showed off those hands that were highly coveted coming out of college. All SteelerNation wanted to see from him was that he had what it takes and he showed that last year. He put up 44 catches for 735 yards and 3 touchdowns, solid for his first real season on the map. Washington is hoping that a healthy Roethlisberger will help that success translate into next season with even better numbers, and he might have to do so with a young Claypool waiting over his shoulder.


Claypool saved his best for last, putting up his best statistical year at Notre Dame during his senior season. He caught 66 passes for 1,037 yards and 13 touchdowns. Those are huge numbers. He is 6’4″, 229 pounds and runs a 4.42 40-yard dash. I think it’s fair to say that he is a physical freak. The upside is through the roof with this young talent. Scouts rave about his ability to find the ball at its highest point, they say his hands have everything it takes to become star quality. That plus his size alone is a scary combination to think about. His one downfall is the ability to provide separation as quickly as most would like coming off the ball, but with the way Pittsburgh drafts and develops wide receivers especially, I have confidence this is something that can be adjusted in his game. I know that rookies usually do not see too much playing time in their first season (outside of first rounders) but it’s just hard for me to believe that the Steelers are going to let a talent like that sit on the bench while they are in the middle of a Super Bowl run.


Nov 30, 2019; Stanford, CA, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish wide receiver Chase Claypool (83) gestures to the crowd after scoring a touchdown during the third quarter against the Stanford Cardinal at Stanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports


Do you think Washington and Claypool will compete for playing time in 2020? Comment below!


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