Steelers go WR, OLB on Day-2

The Pittsburgh Steelers selected Notre Dame wide receiver Chase Claypool (6-4, 238) with the 49th overall pick and capped off the night in going outside linebacker in the third round, selecting Charlotte’s Alex Highsmith.

Claypool was the 11th wide receiver drafted and while no one had Claypool linked to Pittsburgh, the player himself didn’t think he was on Pittsburgh’s radar.

“Pittsburgh would have been my last guess,” said Claypool in a conference call with reporters.

In an extremely deep wide receiver group, Claypool despite Calvin Johnson type measurables, was a player in the teens on many draft insider boards.

Mel Kiper had Claypool ranked as his 11th best receiver in his draft rankings and Claypool was on nobody’s board as a sure-fire second round type talent.

At Notre Dame in 2019, Claypool caught 66 passes for 1,037 yards and 13 touchdowns. The knock on Claypool is that while he has a great speed from a forty time standpoint, he doesn’t play fast and there’s been concerns about his separation ability against big boys at the NFL level who can match the size/strength, which will be different ball game than at the college level.

Yet, there’s a lot of tools that drew the Steelers to him.

“He’s one of those rare types [hide] who has the combination of size and speed,” offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner said. “He wins an awful lot of one-on-one’s.”

As one Steelers source said to me last night — “This guy is a straight up football player.”

Claypool can make things happen without having the ball in his hands. He can block, play special teams and that’s what the Steelers really like about him, aside from the obvious physical traits that you can’t teach.

What also played out with the selection of Claypool was the Steelers adding a different type of receiver to their current core group. This is a group that needs more size and physicality in the future. How much Claypool plays in 2020 remains to be seen, especially with the current situation, but getting a bigger bodied receiver was more of a priority than adding a 5-9, 5-10 receiver to grow with the likes of Diontae Johnson and James Washington, especially if fears are accurate that Juju Smith-Schuster may be elsewhere after this season.

“In the case of a wide receiver, we were excited that that player [Chase Claypool] was available to us,” said Kevin Colbert. “That player, not that position…. Chase Claypool the player was available to us. He’s big, he’s fast, he’s strong, he’s physical,” added Colbert. “He can make the contested catch. When a player like that was available, it was easy.”[/hide]