LATROBE, Pa. — Chase Claypool had a sophomore season that was not what anyone wanted it to be. In just about every major stat, Claypool’s numbers dipped or stayed the same. Then, there was the debacle that occurred in Minnesota. In that game, Claypool was called for a personal foul penalty in the first half, missed a blocking assignment, and nearly fumbled. For that, he was benched.
Claypool came back in and nearly helped the Steelers claw back to a shocking comeback victory. However, on the team’s final drive, Claypool got a first down and with the clock winding down, signaled for a first down. It cost the Steelers multiple seconds on a valuable, game-deciding drive.
Mike Tomlin was noticeably upset at what Claypool did in that game, and it has been a moment of talk around Claypool ever since it occurred. Moreover, it brought Claypool’s maturity into question. Since the end of the 2021 season, Claypool is on a mission to overturn the narrative that he is not mature. He has recognized a problem and has vowed to fix it. The ‘naive’ Claypool wants to flip the script on his reputation.
“I just think compared to what I’ve done in prior years after my first year and what I did this year in terms of preparation and training and studying film and all that, it’s 10 times more than what I’ve done,” Claypool said. “I was pretty naive before in the past to think that, you know, that I could repeat success without preparation. I’ve really taken that preparation to the next step”
Chase Claypool Finds His Mentor in Brandon Marshall
If Claypool was going to change something, a mentor would not be a bad start. So, when the Super Bowl came around, Claypool found his mentor. That mentor was six-time pro bowler Brandon Marshall. Donning the 6-foot-5 frame that is similar to Claypool, Marshall knew that Claypool’s potential was fantastic. However, Marshall needed to put the right things in place for it all to happen.
“We were at the Super Bowl,” Marshall said. “He had his cast on, just had surgery. I walked up to him and was brutally honest with him and said you have huge upside and are super-talented, but you need to get your mind right.”
Marshall had watched Claypool since his time at Notre Dame. It was hard not to notice a guy who is 6-foot-4 and runs a 4.42 40-yard dash. Marshall saw a bit of himself in Claypool. He just needed guidance. So, Marshall invited Claypool down to Florida to the House of Athlete training facility. It was there where they worked out, but more importantly, Marshall tried to show him what he needed to do.
Marshall Puts in Place a Routine
For Marshall, that was about maturity, mental preparation, and film watching. Claypool never had the routine down right, and Marshall was bent on changing that fact. If Marshall could just give him that side of football, what could Claypool end up being in the NFL?
“He has to lean more into being a pro,” Marshall said. “You know I was just talking to him about studying defensive coordinators, and cornerback tendencies. We have to make sure he’s not doing too much, he’s getting off his feet a little bit and cutting off. He’s open to all of it. We had him down at House of Athlete going over things and he had his notes out and his pen moving. He’s a sponge. Chase wants to get better.”
During the offseason, Claypool’s ‘top three’ receiver comment caught wildfire on Marshall’s podcast. However, Marshall has no problem with it. In fact, it is part of the mental process that Marshall tried to put in place with Claypool. It was about saying it, seeing it, and then believing it with Marshall.
“Anybody out there, you’ve got to be able to look yourself in the mirror, having an understanding of who you are and what you are trying to accomplish, and say it every fucking day,” Marshall said. “All he needs to do is put the mental together. You’ve got to go out there and know what you’re up against. He needs to have a championship routine in place. How do you recover or how do you do it every single day? Consistency is the hardest part. What I did today can I do it tomorrow and again and again? He needs to do it over a 10-year career. Chase needs to do it.”
Chase Claypool and New Found Maturity Showing Itself
It can be tough to implement everything Marshall is saying to Claypool. The mental jump from Claypool’s point of view would need time to put in place and more than anything, consistency to get used to. Steelers wide receivers coach Frisman Jackson is seeing everything he has needed from Claypool at this point in the season. He is blossoming into a more mature, veteran player.
“I would say it’s just taking in his habits off the field,” Jackson said. “He’s in the classroom taking notes, asking questions, and questions that Blaine Stewert (Steelers assistant wide receivers coach) said that he was not asking those questions in previous years. So, he has a better understanding of the offense, he asks questions, and he’s out there on the field right now getting extra work in. I’m starting to see a growth in maturity as a player not just on the field but off the field as well.”
Jackson will be working Chase Claypool in a variety of new alignments, including in the slot. His size will provide him with extra mismatches. Even though Claypool has been hurt over the first few weeks of training camp, he has not taken the gas pedal off of his growth just yet.
Teammates See the Chase Claypool Growth
Steelers wide receiver Miles Boykin was teammates at Notre Dame with Claypool for multiple years. Now, Boykin and Claypool are reunited in Pittsburgh. But when Boykin arrived, he noticed a different demeanor and work ethic out of Claypool than he had ever seen prior. The two players sit down with each other to study film and tendencies. Claypool quizzes Boykin and asks questions to coaches. Even more than that, Claypool’s film obsession is so bad that sometimes Boykin needs to tell him to slow down.
“His approach to the game has changed,” Boykin said. “Shoot, we’ll be chilling in the room, completely random, and he’ll ask what we have this play. He will quiz me. Chase will always be like ‘lock in’. I said ‘that’s funny, Chase is telling me to lock in’, but he’s been so inspired. His mindset is just completely different. He’s different.”
Marshall, Claypool’s mentor, knows the potential of Claypool on the field. He has all of the tools, but if there is something that Marshall can get through to Claypool, he thinks that Claypool could be one of the best receivers in the NFL with his physical skills.
“There are some guys in the NFL that are happy to be here,” Marshall said. “And then there are guys that want to be great. If you want to be great, you have to say it. You better believe it. Chase knows he has everything it takes to be a special receiver.”