Chase Claypool Poised To Make A Statement At The Combine

Bryan Driskell

Notre Dame wide receiver Chase Claypool had a strong performance during the interview session of the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine. Tonight he’ll get a chance to make a statement with his on-field performance.

Here is a preview of Claypool and what’s at stake for him at the combine.

CHASE CLAYPOOL WIDE RECEIVER

Height: 6-4 1/4
Weight: 238
Hometown/High School: Abbotsford, British Columbia (Canada) / Abbotsford

2019 Stats: 66 catches, 1,037 yards, 15.7 YPC, 13 TD’s / 5 special teams tackles, 2 forced fumbles
Career Stats: 150 catches, 2,159 yards, 14.4 YPC, 19 TD’s / 25 special teams tackles

Overview: Claypool was a special teams standout his entire career, and that is where he made his mark as a true freshman. He emerged as the starting slot receiver in 2017, hauling in 29 passes for 402 yards, which ranked second on the team that season. Claypool moved to the X position as a junior and again finished second on the team in receptions (50) and receiving yards (639).

A case could be made that beginning with the Pittsburgh game, Claypool was every bit as good, and sometimes better, than leading receiver Miles Boykin. Their stats were almost identical, with Claypool hauling in 32 passes for 439 yards and Boykin coming down with 31 grabs for 444 yards in the final seven games.

Claypool has flashed talent throughout his career, and there were moments in 2017 and 2018 where it looked like he was ready to kick down the door, but it never materialized. When Boykin left early for the NFL it was obvious that Claypool would get another chance to become “the man” in the Notre Dame offense, and he had an outstanding final season.

He moved to W as a senior, and despite being the center of attention for opposing defenses, Claypool made a lot of plays early in the season. When you look at the film there were plenty of instances where he should have gotten the ball even more based on how often he got open. In the final six games, however, the quarterback started to look for Claypool more and his numbers exploded.

Claypool caught 37 passes for 601 yards (16.2 YPC) and nine touchdowns in the final six games. Expand that over the entire season and his numbers would have looked much, much better (80 catches, 1,302 yards, 20 TD’s). Claypool’s play didn’t really change much in the final six games, the quarterback just finally started to get him the ball more often.

During his final season we saw Claypool finally use his size, length and ball skills as a weapon.

I’m sure it happened a time or two, but I truly cannot remember a play in 2019 where Claypool was thrown a remotely catchable contested ball that he didn’t come down with. His body control and strength made him a matchup nightmare, and like he had done throughout his career, he made plays lined up outside and inside.

As a senior, Claypool started to do more damage after the catch. Claypool had 450 total yards after the catch during his first three seasons (according to Pro Football Focus), but as a senior he totaled 358 yards after the catch. That was because as a senior he forced more missed tackles (14) than he had the three previous seasons combined (13), according to PFF.

What’s At Stake: There have been mentions of Claypool moving to tight end since the draft process got into full swing. When he showed up at 238 pounds at the combine those mentions became screams.

One of the criticisms about Claypool that I have read is that he lacks speed and explosiveness. It is often said he struggles to get separation, something I think is partially true, but I don’t believe it’s due to a lack of speed and explosiveness. I’m of the belief it’s more of a technique issue.

Here’s an example:

Here you see Claypool initially gain good separation from former five-star recruit Isaac Taylor-Stuart, but Taylor-Stuart eventually recovers due to the ball being late and Claypool not executing good top end technique.

Claypool eats up the CB’s cushion in a hurry, and initially he pulls multiple steps ahead of Taylor-Stuart. The issue is that Claypool at no time uses his release (stem) to threaten the cornerbacks leverage, and when he fails to execute any kind of move at the top end he allows Taylor-Stuart to just open and run with him.

A better use of technique at the snap and/or with his top end and this is a huge play for Notre Dame. If I had access to more All-22 film there are many plays I could point to where Claypool could have easily used his athletic tools to get more separation had he used better technique.

He’s never going to be able to use raw speed to separate the way players like Henry Ruggs and Jerry Jeudy from Alabama are able to do, but they also can’t use a 6-4, 230-pound body to get open and make plays like Claypool. A player like Claypool must be more refined.

So what does that have to do with the combine? Easy, if Claypool runs fast and tests well in agility drills it will show he does in fact have the speed and explosiveness needed to separate more effectively as a wide receiver, especially with his size.

There were similar criticisms of Boykin last season, but when he ran a 4.42, jumped 43.5” in the vertical and posted excellent agility numbers his stock took a significant jump. Boykin, however, wasn’t as good on film as Claypool was as a senior, and Claypool had significantly better career production, catching 150 passes for 2,159 yards and 19 touchdowns to Boykin’s 77 career catches for 1,206 yards and 11 touchdowns.

I don’t expect Claypool to match Boykin number for number, but if he can crack a 4.5, leap around 40” and show quickness it could significantly boost his stock in a deep receiver class. It would show he has the athleticism to play wide receiver at the next level, but for teams that view him as a tight end, even a hybrid or flex tight end, those kinds of numbers would really generate serious buzz.

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