Chase Claypool, the 49th overall selection by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2020, burst on the scene in 2020 and surprised the league with 889 scrimmage yards and 11 total touchdowns. Instead of taking the second-year leap last season, he took a step back.
Ben Roethlisberger was the same guy throwing the ball in Claypool’s second year as his first. Sure, Roethlisberger was a year older, but the offensive gameplan was the same, as were his limitations. The receiver endured what’s known as the sophomore slump and his production took a hit.
2022 is a new year and, with a new quarterback, Claypool has high expectations for himself. He shared those expectations on I Am Athlete and got shredded for saying he’s a top receiver.
“Chase Claypool is a f—— idiot,” Justin Miner tweeted.
“I can name 40+ receivers I’d take over Chase Claypool,” Ramey tweeted.
“NFL about to give Chase Claypool a drug test,” tweeted a Browns fan.
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Comments Out of Context
Many have perceived Chase Claypool’s comments as arrogance because the quote they see is “I know I’m a top-three receiver.” Those who see it as negative are attacking Claypool without knowing the context in which he said it.
It wasn’t that Claypool was grandstanding. He was merely answering a question posed to him by former NFL wideout Brandon Marshall, who asked Claypool how he was evolving and what he wanted to ascend to this season.
“What you do in the offseason, you take every year as a learning experience,” Claypool said. “I was a better football player than I was my first year. Some of the plays didn’t go my way. I didn’t make some plays I needed to make. But as a football player, understand the game, knowing what to do, knowing where to be. I was better. So I’m gonna be better this year.”
“I understand I’m not normal,” he continued. “I feel that way when I’m on the field. I know for a fact I am not like the rest of the guys in the NFL. I know I’m a top-five receiver. I know I’m a top-three receiver… And I just gotta bring that confidence and I gotta bring that spirit and I just gotta show the people.”
Then LeSean McCoy encouraged Claypool to share his statistical goals for the season.
“Thirteen hundred (yards), 10-plus (touchdowns).”
Chase Claypool’s Mindset
The mindset that Claypool’s recent comments have revealed is nothing new.
Locked on Steelers podcaster Chris Carter asked Claypool at June’s minicamp if he’s set numbers for receptions, yards, touchdowns for the upcoming season. “I’m just aiming to be a top-three receiver,” Claypool answered. “That’s my goals. Anyone can hate on them if they want.”
This is a goal Claypool wants to accomplish. What he’s manifesting comes from the culture that Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin has instilled in Pittsburgh; one of positivity and support.
“Dudes have to believe that they can rise up in the environment and become what they desire to be,” Tomlin said on The Pivot on June 21.
There’s nothing wrong with confidence and the desire to be great. As an athlete in a competitive environment such as the NFL, it can be a good thing — but you have to be able to back it up.
Here’s to hoping Chase Claypool can.