There is a learning curve to the NFL, and rookies don’t typically waltz in the league and put up 5,000 passing yards or 2,000 rushing yards. It takes some growing and maturing before that even happens for the all-time greats. That being said, NFL fans are passionate and expect some level of production out of their high-round draft picks in year one. The last thing any athlete wants to be labeled is a bust, so the pressure is high.
But this year is different, as obviously the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting each and everyone of us. In the NFL, rookie camp, mini camp, OTA’s, and preseason games have been cancelled. Teams can't even run one-on-one drills. Basically, the first NFL reps these rookies will face will be in Week 1.
Chase Claypool also has the dubious honor of being the highest overall selection the Steelers made in April, which makes it easy to forget he’s not a first-round pick. Usually all the media attention hones in on that first-round player, but because there isn't one all eyes are quite literally on Claypool. Now typically first-round receivers are expected to come close to 1,000 yards in year one while expectations are a lot lower for second rounders and below. Also factor in Claypool is already getting Calvin Johnson comparisons for having nearly identical testing numbers and there is a recipe for crushing a young mans confidence.
"Chase (Claypool) is going to play a lot and he's going to be good." -- Steelers WR coach Ike Hilliard.— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) August 3, 2020
Just take this quote for Steelers receiving coach Ike Hilliard “Chase is going to play a lot and he’s going to be good.” Sure that's a really good sign that a coach already thinks highly of a player but again it raises the expectations for Chase. Just take a look at some of the responses following Coach Hilliard’s quote.
That size, speed and leaping ability, makes him almost impossible to defend. He makes what Mike Tomlin refers to as the "Combat Catch." He will be a major factor.— Wayne Moody (@WaymooMoody) August 3, 2020
i am fully prepared for chase claypool to win afc roy https://t.co/nMklMopTGB— yinzer (@yinzzzerr) August 8, 2020
I’m a little concerned if Claypool puts up, say a 30 reception, 400 yard type season, the fan base will turn their collective backs to him. Angry social media interactions have shot guys confidence in the past, as guys like Chris Boswell had to distance himself from hate messages to regain his composure.
The moral of the story is we need to let go of any expectation for the rookie season of the 2020 class. If any individual player shows flashes then we can be excited for the future, but don’t trash a guy if he’s not producing.
This rookie class will be fine, they will just need a little bit more time than in a normal year.
What do you think? Are Steelers fans expecting too much too soon out of its 2020 draft class? Let us know down in the comments below!