Mon, 08 Mar 2021

Claypool named to PFWA All-Rookie Team

The Steelers
20 Jan 2021, 05:30 GMT+10

Teresa Varley

The Steelers didn't have a pick in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, after trading it to acquire Minkah Fitzpatrick. But they still found first-round talent in dynamic wide receiver Chase Claypool, the team's second round pick out of Notre Dame.

Claypool made a splash this season while being a major contributor to the offense and being voted the Steelers Rookie of the Year, and now he has received another honor as he was named to the Pro Football Writers of America All-Rookie Team.

Claypool started off with a bang, even in training camp, earning praise early on from his teammates even before playing in a game.

"He has impressed me for sure," said cornerback Joe Haden during camp. "Just his size, his speed, his ability to adjust to the ball in the air. He doesn't say too much. He is out there every day asking questions, just getting the routes. He has been doing a really good job. I think he is a great young talent. His work ethic shows he wants to be great. He doesn't do too much talking. He just gets after it. As long as he knows the playbook, him and Ben (Roethlisberger) are on accord with the checks, he has all of the physical attributes to be a baller.

"He is a big, fast receiver. He is able to adjust to the ball in the air. He is a big body, deep threat, with soft hands who can jump up and get it.

"As long as he just keeps going, staying healthy, I think he is going to be a baller."

He was spot on. Claypool was a baller this year. He finished the regular season with 62 receptions for 873 yards, a 14.1-yard average, and nine receiving touchdowns, adding 10 carries for 16 yards and two rushing touchdowns.

"He's talented," said quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. "He has got some God-given abilities that not many people in this world have. He's big, fast, and strong, and he's very, very smart."

Claypool had a day very few in Steelers history have had In Week 4 when he scored four touchdowns in the Steelers 38-29 win over the Philadelphia Eagles at Heinz Field and was named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week.

Claypool had seven receptions for 110 yards, three of those seven catches were touchdowns, and also rushed for a two-yard score.

"He works. He works hard," said Roethlisberger. "He doesn't make a lot of mistakes. I've said this numerous times. If he does make a mistake, he won't make the same one twice, and I think that says a lot about a young guy."

Claypool became the first rookie in team history to score four touchdowns in a game, and only the third player in team history to do so, the last one when Roy Jefferson caught four touchdown passes against Atlanta on Nov. 3, 1968, while also becoming only the third player in team history to score 24 points in a game.

Claypool also became the first Steelers rookie with a receiving and rushing touchdown in the same game since Franco Harris did it at Buffalo in 1972.

"He is a freakish dude to be that big and that athletic," said cornerback Mike Hilton early on. "The way he is able to use his body to go up and make some great plays when the ball is in the air. I feel like the offense is going to have fun with that new toy."

Claypool had multiple receptions in all but two games this season, including a career high against Dallas when he had eight receptions, going for 68 yards. He has earned praise from all around the NFL and has been a nightmare for opposing coaches and defensive coordinators.

"The tape speaks for itself,' said Ravens Coach John Harbaugh. "He was high on our board coming out. I thought they did a great job picking him, certainly fits what they do. He would fit what most anybody does. He is a big, strong, big radius receiver. He has speed, he is tough, he blocks, he does a heck of a job and he makes big plays."

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