Steelers second year wide out Chase Claypool has had some tough sledding seven games into the year. He has battled some injuries, and some tougher matchups which in turn has made his numbers suffer. Over the first seven games of the 2021 season Claypool has amassed 26 receptions, 403 yards, and just one touchdown. He averages 3.7 receptions, 57.6 yards, and 0.14 touchdowns per game. While Claypool can certainly surpass his rookie totals for catches and yards in a season, he is no where near his scoring output from 2020.
It is almost less in the way of stats and mores explosive plays that are holding the big Canadian receiver back. In year one, Claypool would be seen running in 84-yard bombs, scoring multiple touchdowns in a game, and flat-out jumping over defenders. Steelers’ fans really haven't seen much of this here in 2021. Claypool has been more of a steady receiver that you would typically see out of someone who doesn't have the physical attributes that he has. In 2021 it doesn't look like Claypool is playing up to his potential. Bigger receivers like Michael Pittman Jr. and DK Metcalf are dominating the game and bullying defenders, but we really haven’t seen this out of Claypool yet.
How much of this can be placed on Ben Roethlisberger and how much can be placed on Chase Claypool himself remains to be seen. It is definitely possible that Roethlisberger is the bigger factor here, as you can see Ben miss Chase on some of his deep shots. But on the other hand when Roethlisberger throws up a 50/50 ball it feels like Claypool is coming down with the football 0% of the time. The explosive play fans see out of the big receivers where they just out-physical a defender and pick up a reception just isn't there, and that includes when Big Ben is on the money.
What Steelers’ Nation needs to see out of Chase Claypool through the rest of this 2021 campaign to say he is trending in the right direction is a handful of things. I would like to see him run another deep shot to the end zone again, I would like him to win more of the 50/50 balls, and I would like to see Claypool dominate in the redzone and become a player Ben Roethlisberger can just flick it towards in this area of the field and feel comfortable that Claypool will come down with six points. He just needs to start making the plays that uber-athletic, massive-bodied receivers make in this league.
This is not to say Claypool is having a bad season either, however. He has made some good plays, and picked up some tough yards. But, so far, Claypool just hasn't taken that step to an elite football player which many of us hoped/expected from him in year two. Especially with JuJu Smith-Schuster down for the year, Claypool should have more opportunities to prove he is a dominating force in football with more targets, but the question becomes will he do it.
What do you think? Are you at all concerned about the growth of Chase Claypool in year two? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.