There is always a prospect that comes out of the NFL combine with some buzz, whether it be due to their fantastic measurables, an unexpected position switch, or great interviews. Did the Pittsburgh Steelers get sucked in by the combine numbers or do they have a potential Pro-Bowl talent on their hands? Read on to find out…
Round 2 – Pick 17 – Chase Claypool (WR Notre Dame)
The Steelers’ second round pick Chase Claypool, a wide receiver from Notre Dame, fit this category. Measuring in at 6’4″ and 238lbs and then running a blazing 4.42 in the 40 yard dash, coupled with a decent 19 reps in the bench press, Claypool had NFL coaches wowed with his physical traits.
Claypool certainly has the size/speed combo that can dazzle teams at the combime and his 66/1,037/13 stat line in 2019 is one of a top prospect. However, if you roll the tape, you see a receiver that struggles to separate early from physical press and has no second gear with the ball in his hands.
But enough of the buzzkill. As you watch the tape, the catch radius is evident and he makes some brilliant contested catches, works the sidelines well and can more than handle himself in the blocking game. Not only that, but in Claypool the Steelers have drafted a special teams ace who excels in kick coverage.
Adding Claypool to a varied receiver room that was crying out for a physical threat is a smart move that helps Ben Roethlisberger immediately. Was there better value on the board this early in the second round? Quite possibly, but the Steelers have a history of drafting well at the receiver position and Chase could prove his value early.
Round 3 – Pick 38 – Alex Highsmith (OLB Charlotte)
The former walk on at Charlotte was an under the radar name coming into the NFL draft, but as Steelers writers across the land delve into the prospect, its hard to find a bad word said about Alex Highsmith.
Playing as the OLB in a 3-4 system in Charlotte, Highsmith had a fantastic final year, racking up 21.5 TFL and 14 sacks in only 13 starts and showing progression year on year.
Highsmith’s forte is the finesse pass rushing game and he shows a great variety of moves to confuse and beat tackles to the outside. He lacks the frame and power to effectively set an edge against NFL calibre tackles and the more physical tight ends, but shows the intelligence to be in the backfield at the right time to make impact plays.
Both Day 2 picks for the Pittsburgh Steelers should contribute on Special teams early, with both players showing the potential to earn time with the starters in 2020.
With a (hopefully resurgent) Ben Roethlisberger willing to push the ball downfield, Claypool could emerge as a late season waiver wire pick up depending on the development of James Washington.
The Highsmith pick adds another weapon to an already dangerous pass rush and solidifies the Pittsburgh Steelers defense as a top 5 fantasy team.