The NFL’s rookie wide receiver class continues to dominate the landscape. On a weekly basis, another first-year pass catcher stamps his name on the league.
On Sunday, Pittsburgh Steelers second-round pick Chase Claypool made his presence known by dominating in-state rival Philadelphia to the tune of four total TDs (three receiving) and seven catches for 110 yards.
Claypool is the latest in a long line of Steelers WR draft picks to prove GM Kevin Colbert is a genius scouting the position.
“He’s talented,” Ben Roethlisberger said of Claypool, via ESPN’s Brooke Pryor. “He has got some God-given abilities that not many people in this world have. He’s big, fast and strong, and he’s very, very smart. So we’re able to do those things like move him around and do some things with him. That last touchdown is a perfect example. Changed the play, and he makes it happen. I just have to give him a little bit of a cue, and it’s awesome.”
At 6-foot-4, Claypool has the size to dwarf corners on the outside, athleticism to high-point the ball, speed to gobble up yards after the catch, and good hands to catch pigskins in tight spaces.
Philadelphia couldn’t cover the rookie on Sunday, allowing him to convert several big third-down plays.
Despite a performance that portends a big role moving forward, coach Mike Tomlin predictably downplayed Claypool’s day.
“A lot of it may not have to do with him and his skill set,” Tomlin said. “We just have a well-balanced attack. We have guys the people have to account for, guys like JuJu [Smith-Schuster], guys like Diontae [Johnson], and [Eric] Ebron, and I just think that he’s probably a good matchup for whoever people have assigned up [on] him from a man-to-man standpoint … and that’s the strength of having a deep group of guys that are capable of making plays. Week in and week out there are going to be different guys that step up and ascend based off the matchups that are presented, and he had a good matchup this week.”
Claypool’s talent is too striking to suggest Sunday was a flash-in-the-pan event. That the rookie already has Big Ben’s trust is also key.
With the game still in the balance on third-and-8 from the Eagles 35, Roethlisberger switched the play after Philly showed Cover 2, but the rookie was in a slot position he’d never practiced. Big Ben motioned Claypool the route to run down the middle.
“I’ve never been in that spot,” Claypool said. “That’s usually Ebron. I actually had to ask him what I was doing because I had one thing in mind and I wanted to make sure that was the right thing because it was a crucial point in the game.”
“He just told me, kind of told the whole defense, which is my fault.”
It mattered naught.
Despite Eagles nickel corner Nickell Robey-Coleman motioning to linebacker Nate Gerry what’s coming, Claypool burned past the defense for his fourth score of the day. Ballgame.
It’s an embarrassing sequence if you’re on the Eagles defense. For Claypool, it made him the first rookie in NFL history with at least three receiving touchdowns and at least one rushing touchdown in a single game. He also became the first Steelers rookie since Hall of Famer Franco Harris (Week 7, 1972 at Bills) with a rushing touchdown and a receiving touchdown in the same game.
Source: Read Full Article