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How Chase Claypool’s rookie season ranks among the best ever in Steelers history

How did Chase Claypool’s rookie season rank among the team’s best ever?

Pittsburgh Steelers v Cleveland Browns Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers have had pretty good fortune with rookie receivers in their history. Going back to the Chuck Noll era, there is a long list of notable players who came in and played well immediately. In the Kevin Colbert era, the Steelers’ organization has been known as a wide receiver factory. It seems as if they draft them, they will eventually turn into something special.

This is the case for many players, but no receiver in the Mike Tomlin era jumped off the screen as much as Chase Claypool did in 2020. The former Notre Dame product, and 2nd round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, wasted little time getting acclimated to the professional game. This without a preseason too.

With the season over, and we all now have time to reflect on the year that was, I wondered how Claypool’s rookie campaign ranked among some of the most prolific wide receivers in Steelers history.

Take a look at the key metrics I used for the players below:

Hines Ward
Games: 16
Receptions: 15 (33 targets)
Yards: 246 (Long: 45)
TD (Total): 0

Santonio Holmes
Games: 16
Receptions: 49 (86 targets)
Yards: 824 (Long: 67)
TD (Total): 2

Plaxico Burress
Games: 12
Receptions: 22 (65 targets)
Yards: 273 (Long: 39)
TD (Total): 0

Antonio Brown
Games: 9
Receptions: 16 (19 targets)
Yards: 167 (Long: 26)
TD (Total): 0

Mike Wallace
Games: 16
Receptions: 39 (72 targets)
Yards: 756 (Long: 60)
TD (Total): 6

JuJu Smith-Schuster
Games: 14
Receptions: 58 (79 targets)
Yards: 917 (Long: 97)
TD (Total): 7

Louis Lipps
Games: 14
Receptions: 45
Yards: 860 (Long: 80)
TD (Total): 10

Lynn Swann
Games: 12
Receptions: 11
Yards: 208 (Long: 54)
TD (Total): 2

John Stallworth
Games: 13
Receptions: 16
Yards: 269 (Long: 56)
TD (Total): 1

Looking at those players, now compare the results Claypool was able to accomplish in the 2020 season:

Chase Claypool
Games: 16
Receptions: 62 (109 targets)
Yards: 873 (Long: 84)
TD (Total): 11

I fully understand it isn’t fair to compare Claypool’s rookie season to that of Lipps, Swann or Stallworth. Why? In the 70s and early 80s they weren’t throwing the ball as much as they are in the modern era of NFL football.

Just look at Claypool’s targets (109) compared to the others, it should be noted targets were tracked for players like Swann and Stallworth. Those numbers don’t even come close in comparison. But that also shouldn’t diminish what Claypool was able to achieve in his first season as a professional.

At this point in the year, the focus should turn away from his first campaign and turn into what can he do in his second season. Opposing defense won’t be sleeping on Claypool like many did last season. Will he have a sophomore slump, or a standout sophomore season?

Only time will tell, but Claypool has certainly inserted himself as having one of the best, if not the best, rookie season in Pittsburgh Steelers history.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the new league year, NFL Free Agency and the 2021 NFL Draft.