Pittsburgh Steelers Best Wide Receiver Rookie Games

The Pittsburgh Steelers have an excellent history of drafting and developing wide receivers, and many wonder if that trend will continue with George Pickens this year.

Over the years, plenty of rookies have had standout games. So, what are some of the best games rookie wide receivers for the Pittsburgh Steelers have had?

Chase Claypool vs. Philadelphia Eagles (October 11, 2020)

This one stands out for the history books because Chase Claypool put on a clinic in a game he wasn’t sure he would even be featured in. The freakishly athletic 6’4 wide receiver out of Notre Dame had a performance for the ages against the Philadelphia Eagles in the team’s Week 5 38-29 victory. Claypool finished the matchup with four scores, three through the air and one on the ground, leading to him setting the Steelers rookie wide receiver record for touchdowns in a game while also being the first rookie wideout to score four times since Jerry Butler did it in 1979.

The reasoning behind Claypool not being sure he was going to be utilized was because Diontae Johnson was slotted ahead of him on the depth chart. Johnson exited the game with a back injury, forcing Claypool into the role he ultimately flourished in. 

Louis Lipps vs. Kansas City Chiefs (September 2, 1984)

There were plenty of standout performances for Louis Lipps with the Pittsburgh Steelers during his rookie season in 1984, but none were more impressive than what he did during his first game as a pro. It’s not often you see a rookie wide receiver trusted as much as Lipps in his NFL debut, but that’s exactly what transpired with legendary coach Chuck Noll at the helm.

What’s noteworthy about his performance in this opener was that it was a glimpse of what was to come, which was very high yards per reception. Lipps hauled in six catches during this matchup but finished the game with 183 receiving yards and two touchdowns, averaging an exceptional 30.5 yards per catch. 

JuJu Smith-Schuster vs. Detroit Lions (October 29, 2017)

A significant share of the credit for Pittsburgh’s success in producing productive wideouts should go to their scouting staff and former general manager Kevin Colbert. The eye for talent was second to none, and they found another gem with their selection of JuJu Smith-Schuster in the second round of the 2017 draft.

The former Steelers wide receiver set the rookie record for yards in a season with 917, boosted by his performance against the Detroit Lines just two days before Halloween in 2017. Smith-Schuster did his best job to dress up as a monster two days prior, though, tallying nine receptions for 143 yards and a touchdown. Not only was this performance of the epic variety, but he also added a 97-yard touchdown in this matchup, which was the longest score of the 2017 season. 

Honorable Mention

Charles Johnson vs. San Diego Chargers (December 24, 1994)

Charles Johnson had a very nice rookie year with the Steelers in 1994, with his best performance coming against the San Diego Chargers in late December. The rookie wideout caught just four passes in the game but compiled 165 yards and two scores. The numbers for Johnson might look more impressive than those above him, but the other performances saw those players more involved, which helped propel them ahead of him. 

Santonio Holmes vs. Cincinnati Bengals (December 31, 2006)

Santonio Holmes might be remembered for his iconic catch in Super Bowl 43, but he also made quite the impression during his rookie season. In the final week of the 2006 regular season, Holmes caught four passes for 124 yards and a touchdown, which helped solidify his role with the team for years to come.