Steelers’ head coach Mike Tomlin was impressed by receiver Chase Claypool the first time he saw the Canadian football player live with his own eyes.
Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert were on the ground in Mobile, Alabama for the week of Senior Bowl practices and game at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Claypool was invited to play for the North team in January during the 2020 edition.
“It started for Kevin and I in Mobile. We had an opportunity to go to practices in Mobile, and you know how we covet those opportunities to get down on the field and get close to the draft class, and watch them work, and receive instruction,” Tomlin said in his mid-week video conference.
“We were just really impressed with him as a football player no matter what was going on down there, whether it was special teams drills and he was playing gunner or stalk blocking drills when they were competing against defensive backs. He just showed the type of football character we covet, a guy that’s a competitor in all circumstances, and obviously we like his wide receiver talents.”
The Senior Bowl is the top showcase event for NCAA senior NFL draft prospects. Claypool boosted his stock during the week of on-field sessions and put himself on the stat sheet with a touchdown catch. Following an ultra athletic display at the NFL combine, Pittsburgh selected Claypool in the second round, 49th overall during the NFL draft — it was the Steelers first choice in the 2020 event.
The Abbotsford, B.C. native has immediately contributed on special teams and offensively in his first NFL season. Through two games, Claypool has five catches on five targets for 127 yards and one touchdown, the first TD of his career was the longest touchdown play from scrimmage by a Canadian in NFL history.
“He’s doing really well considering he’s a rookie with no preseason. We got to see early on though that he was going to have that success, or we believed he was because even in the OTAs and mini-camps, and when we were throwing at Robert Morris in the off-season,” quarterback Ben Roesthlisberger said in his weekly media availability.
“You could just see that he was a guy that already knew what he was doing, and already had an understanding of the offence. I’ve said it numerous times, he’ll make a mistake but it won’t be two times. We’re really happy with his progress and hope that he keeps growing.”
Pittsburgh hosts Houston at Heinz Field on Sunday at 1 p.m. eastern time. It’s the next chance to see Claypool’s progression after playing a role in the Steelers 2-0 start while flashing star potential.