Canadian Chase Claypool highest graded NFL rookie in Week 1, per Pro Football Focus

Photo courtesy: Pittsburgh Steelers

Canadian receiver Chase Claypool turned a lot of heads in Week 1 of the NFL season when he made a dazzling first down catch on Monday night.

Now he’s getting praise from those who examine the finer points of the game as well.

On Wednesday, data analytics firm Pro Football Focus tweeted that Claypool was the highest graded rookie NFL performer of this past week. PFF is led by NBC colour commentator Cris Collinsworth and uses a highly specialized framework to grade every player’s performance on every snap of every game on a sliding scale.

Those numbers are then converted into a grade out of 100 for both single-game and season-long performance evaluations. PFF is employed by all 32 NFL franchises and more than 80 NCAA teams to gain an edge in evaluation, scouting and game preparation.

Claypool’s grade of 90.2 is considered elite according to PFF metrics and tops all members of the 2020 draft class. The native of Abbottsford recorded two catches on two targets for 39 yards while adding one rush for eight yards and a first down to end the game this week, part of a 26-16 Pittsburgh victory over the New York Giants.

The 22-year-old’s first career NFL reception was the most improbable completion of Week 1 in the entire NFL, Next Gen Stats provided the information. Ben Roethlisberger threw the ball 47.3 yards in the air while under pressure and with Claypool in double coverage. The completion probability rate was calculated at 13.8 percent. Pure athleticism and body control were the critical factors why Claypool hauled the ball in.

Claypool’s success came on just 19 offensive snaps as Pittsburgh’s fourth receiver, but he made the most of every opportunity. When you remove minimum snap count from the equation, only Minnesota receiver Adam Thielen had a higher PFF grade among receivers in Week 1.

Early success should see more touches coming the way of the Notre Dame product. Selected in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft, Claypool has generated considerable hype all throughout training camp and earned the nickname “MapleTron” from teammates.

He’ll next get to showoff next against the Denver Broncos on Sunday.

J.C. Abbott is a University of British Columbia graduate and high school football coach. He covers the CFL, B.C. Lions, CFL Draft and the three-down league's Global initiative.