Chase Claypool has big expectations for this third NFL season.
How big? The Steelers wideout is predicting 1,300 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2022 on the heels of a season that saw him haul in 59 catches for 860 yards and a pair of scores.
“I’m going to say, my second year, I was a better player than I was my first year,” Claypool said on the “I AM ATHLETE” podcast this week. “The plays just didn’t work out, right? Some of the plays just didn’t go my way. I didn’t make some plays I need to make. But as a football player, understanding the game, knowing what to do, knowing where to be, I was better. So I’m going to be better this year.
“And just like you said, understanding I’m not normal — 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.”
That should come as a relief to whomever ends up taking the first-team snaps in Pittsburgh this season. Ben Roethlisberger retired, leaving a three-man competition to see who will replace him under center.
Mitchell Trubisky appears to be the frontrunner to guide the offense this season, though the team is giving first-round pick Kenny Pickett and longtime Big Ben backup Mason Rudolph a chance to be the first-string QB.
Having Claypool, currently No. 2 on the Steelers’ receiving depth chart behind Diontae Johnson — with rookie George Pickens threatening to steal some attention — should ease the burden for whomever the new top arm is.
If Claypool’s big predictions come true, it’ll certainly be a boon to his new QB — and the 23-year-old is certainly putting in the work to make it happen.
“When I’m working, I’m like, ‘I’m a dog.’ I’m gonna dog people that are lining up across from me, too,” Claypool said. “And I’ve just got to bring that confidence and I’ve got to bring that spirit and I’ve just got to show people. And it’s going to happen. And we’re going to rewind this and we’re going to see this clip in a little bit and they’re going to be like, ‘Damn, he was right.’”