What defines a draft “steal”? While there is no Webster’s Dictionary definition for such a thing, I would feel pretty safe calling a steal, in this instance, a player who has a tremendous amount of value which doesn’t match up with when they were drafted.
So, a player selected in the 3rd round who could turn into an every down starter would certainly be considered a “steal”, as it pertains to the NFL Draft. Were the Pittsburgh Steelers able to claim one of these “steal” players in the 2020 NFL Draft?
According to ESPN insiders, they did just that when they selected Chase Claypool, wide receiver out of Notre Dame, in the second round with pick No. 49. This is what an NFL offensive coordinator had to say about Claypool going to the black-and-gold.
WR Chase Claypool, second round to Steelers: “Matchup guy, runs vertical, big, 238 [pounds]. Exactly what that team needs.”
Some might read this and shrug off a comment like, “Exactly what the team needs.” but you can’t underestimate what Claypool brings to the Steelers’ offense. Not only the big-bodied receiver Ben Roethlisberger has been longing for since Martavis Bryant left town, but the deep threat who is capable of drawing a safety to his side on a regular basis.
Drawing a safety, so what!
Well, if you think back to JuJu Smith-Schuster’s production when Antonio Brown was in the lineup, you should know he was able to exploit one-on-one coverage. 2019 was an injury plagued season for Smith-Schuster, so the jury is still out on whether he can beat double coverage, but with Claypool in the lineup the Steelers’ wide receiver depth chart is pretty complete.
Claypool won’t, and shouldn’t, be expected to step in on Day 1 and be the deep threat for the team. But if he becomes just a threat at all, he can open up things for Smith-Schuster, James Washington and the dynamic Diontae Johnson. When Martavis Bryant was a rookie, he didn’t play a full season, but when he did he was a deep threat and got the attention of the defense.
Players like that, and I would put Claypool in this category, open up things not only in the passing game, but also the running game. If defenses can’t load the box to stop the run, for fear of being exploited in the back end, it makes the offense more functional. And better.
Claypool was a steal, but only when he proves he can be the threat the team needs at the position. Nonetheless, the Steelers’ offense is certainly better now, compared to the 2019 offense, with Claypool in it.