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The Chase Claypool trade is a reminder 2nd Round picks turn into players we know

Chase Claypool was traded to the Bears in exchange for a 2nd Round pick. Great haul, given the circumstances, but there was a time when Claypool showed great possibilities before falling out of favor with many.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Aside from the Twitter “NOOOOOOO!” that preceded the official announcement of his selection in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft, Chase Claypool’s rookie season with the Steelers was rather magical.

Fans immediately fell in love with Claypool’s size, speed, athleticism and work ethic. The work ethic part seemed quite evident when examining his willingness to run downfield and make tackles as a member of Notre Dame’s kick coverage teams.

But, make no mistake, the Steelers, a team that was looking for a big-bodied mismatch maker in its receivers room, had plans for Claypool that had nothing to do with him becoming their next Darrius Heyward-Bey. Claypool’s performance arc at South Bend, one that started out with five catches for 81 yards as a freshman and ended with 66 receptions for 1,037 yards and 13 touchdowns as a senior, suggested that he could and would be something special at the professional level.

And, oh was he, at least in 2020 when Claypool tallied 62 receptions for 873 yards and nine touchdowns. The rookie also netted two rushing touchdowns and spent most of his initial campaign looking like the next D.K. Metcalf.

Or how about the next Calvin Johnson aka Megatron? That’s right, Claypool, a native of Canada, was quickly dubbed Mapletron by Steelers fans who were gushing over his potential and production.

Claypool’s first season included a four-touchdown performance against the Eagles during a Week 4 win at Heinz Field—the first time a rookie had done such a thing in team history.

Then Claypool’s rookie season ended in a 48-37 loss to the Browns in a wildcard playoff game at Heinz Field, and things quickly began to unravel.

Instead of accepting the loss quietly, Claypool mocked the Browns and said they would get “clapped” by Kansas City in the divisional round.

Not long after that, you began to hear rumors, spread by the Steelers' own website, that Claypool’s “diva quotient” increased as his rookie season went along.

Soon after that, there was that ugly bar brawl. Throw in his social media activity that seemed to ruffle many feathers, and let’s just say the rose was off the bloom by the time Claypool’s sophomore campaign kicked off in 2021.

Actually, Claypool’s on-field performance in 2021 wasn’t all that different from his rookie campaign, save for having nine-less touchdowns; Claypool caught 59 passes for 860 yards in 2021 and averaged 14.6 yards per reception (he averaged 14.1 in 2020).

Unfortunately for Claypool, he displayed great immaturity late in a game against the Vikings when he gave the traditional “first down” signal made popular by receivers many years ago but did it with precious little time remaining and the Steelers desperately trying to tie the score.

I don’t think he ever lived that down.

I also don’t think Claypool necessarily got a fair shake during his second season and was caught up in the mess that the offense morphed into mid-way through his rookie campaign.

Does this mean Claypool didn’t display diva-like tendencies behind the scenes and really wasn’t the distraction CBS insider Josina Anderson suggested he was after the Steelers shipped the third-year receiver to the Bears on Tuesday for a 2023 second-round pick?

It’s hard to say.

Oh yes, this brings me to the point of my article: The Steelers, 2-6, managed to do something that excited their fans by securing a second-round pick for a receiver who had certainly fallen out favor with the faithful, may or may not have been a problem for the team, and whose potential was never fully realized after his promising rookie campaign.

Kudos to general manager Omar Khan, who somehow managed to extract Chicago’s own 2023 second-round pick and not the one it received from the contending Ravens on Monday in the Roquan Smith deal.

If the seasons of both the Steelers and Bears (3-5) continue down their current paths, Pittsburgh might actually wind up with three of the first 40 picks in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Think of the possibilities. Think of how quickly the Steelers could build things back up in the trenches (I mean, it has to be the trenches, right)?

But what if the Bears’ second-round pick turns into a player who likes TikTok? What if he says something off-putting? What if he isn’t an offensive or defensive lineman?

What if he’s another receiver? I mean, it’s in the Steelers' DNA to draft a wideout in the second round, and now they're going to have two chances to do that? Yikes.

My advice to you is this: Don’t build this second-round pick from the Bears up in your mind months before the Steelers even hand their card to the commissioner on the Friday evening of the 2023 NFL Draft.

You never want to place high expectations on a person you haven’t met yet.

Take me, for example. I had a Bumble date last week. I could see on the app that she was beautiful, and I may have built her up in my mind to be good relationship material. I don’t know if my date had built me up in much the same way, but she certainly seemed a bit disappointed when she sat down with me to have a drink.

At no point in the night did I manage to high-point a pass or wow her with my potential.

I was immediately waived the next day.

This second-round pick from the Bears isn’t perfect, sport.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret: Neither is George Pickens, the Steelers' most-recent second-round draft pick and someone who plays a position that is the loud lawnmower to the nest of killer bees when it comes to how the fans ultimately react given enough time: Receiver.

You may love Pickens now, but will you in 2023? What if he says something you don’t like? What if he TikToks? What if he drops a catchable pass? What if he has it out with Kenny Pickett? What if rumors begin to surface about an increase in his diva quotient?

Pickens will eventually show you his flaws, but unless they’re truly alarming, overlook them.

Overlook the flaws of that second-round pick the Bears shipped to the Steelers for Chase Claypool on Tuesday, as well.

Everything’s groovy between you and that Bears’ second-round draft pick—and George Pickens— now, but let’s just see what happens after you guys have your first fight.