Canadian receiver Chase Claypool named Pittsburgh Steelers Rookie of the Year

Photo courtesy: Karl Roser / Pittsburgh Steelers

Steelers’ Canadian receiver Chase Claypool was one of the 2020 recipients of the Pittsburgh Chapter of Pro Football Writers of America’s annual awards.

Claypool received the ‘Joe Greene Great Performance Award’ — given annually to the Steelers best rookie.

“Definitely a big honour, especially looking at the people who have won it in the past, and it being named after arguably the best Steeler in history. Hopefully there’s a lot more years to come,” Claypool said during a videoconference.

Teammate JuJu Smith-Schuster earned the same honour in 2017. Smith-Schuster was a second round pick, 62nd overall in that year’s draft and caught 58 passes for 917 yards with seven touchdowns in his rookie NFL season.

“He’s always there for me, always helping me. Off the field how to handle myself in the off-season,” Claypool said. “The biggest thing is how to grow your brand, and how to manage that brand, if it’s too much — he’s given me good advice.”

The Steelers chose Claypool in the second round, 49th overall during the 2020 NFL draft. Claypool has played in 15 games this season with five starts at receiver. He has 57 receptions for 772 yards and 10 total touchdowns, eight receiving and two rushing.

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“What Chase did, for a while there, Chase, in my opinion, should have been considered for Rookie of the Year in the NFL, too,” quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said in a videoconference.

“I always tell him, he can be as good as he wants to be. Only the surface has been scratched with the talent and the ability of that guy.”

Claypool is the only rookie receiver in the Super Bowl era to score four touchdowns in a single game in NFL history. He had three receiving touchdowns and one rushing touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 5.

“I don’t need to worry too much about letting the quick start get to me because I don’t really want that to change me, I don’t think it has,” Claypool said.

The Abbotsford, B.C. native had four catches for 54 yards in Week 16 to help the Steelers end a three-game losing streak and improve to 12-3, clinching the AFC North Division title. Head coach Mike Tomlin has been managing Claypool’s snaps to make sure his dynamic rookie is fresh for the post-season.

“Coach T has been in this game a lot longer time than I have so whether I believe it or not, I think he knows what he’s doing,” Claypool said. “I’m feeling good now, so whatever he did, necessary or not, I’m feeling good heading into playoffs, and that’s all that matters.”

Pittsburgh plays Cleveland in the final week of the regular season and the Steelers are set to host a playoff game in the AFC Wild Card round at Heinz Field.

Justin Dunk is a football insider, sports reporter and anchor.