Last year a number of former Notre Dame players had outstanding performances at the NFL Scouting Combine, and those performances led to players like Miles Boykin, Drue Tranquill and Jerry Tillery seeing their draft stock rise significantly.
With the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine just a little over a week away there is growing buzz surrounding several former Irish players. Could we see a repeat of last year’s breakout performance from former Notre Dame players?
According to NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein, one player he expects to be a standout at the combine is former Notre Dame wide receiver Chase Claypool.
“He had a really strong Senior Bowl performance and from what I’ve been told, scouts say he’s going to work out very similarly to his teammate from last year, Miles Boykin from Notre Dame, who had a big combine,” Zierlein said during a recent broadcast on NFL Network. “Jumped high, ran fast, the only difference is [Claypool] is supposed to have a similar workout, but he’s a better football player.
“So I think what you’re going to see is on the heels of a strong Senior Bowl, a strong combine, he’s going to push himself firmly into round two.”
I wrote about this in my recent Midweek Musings as well. There is this notion that Claypool lacks explosiveness, and that a potential move to tight end might be in the works. In fact, I recently had a writer for a NFL site ask me if Claypool could, or should, move to tight end.
My prediction is Claypool is going to surprise analysts and scouts at the combine, and if he does the tight end discussion will cease and desist. It will be replaced with a conversation about Claypool needing to be moved up much higher on draft boards than he currently is.
He was often overshadowed by the deep wide receiver class that he is a part of, and while his production was limited at times by factors outside of his control, when he was targeted Claypool made play after play for the Irish offense this season. His physical dominance was impressive, and he was doing things at Notre Dame that we haven’t seen since Michael Floyd - a former first-round draft pick - donned the blue and gold.
When you combine his senior tape with a great frame, physicality, strength and four-year starting experience on the Irish special teams, Claypool has a chance to become a favorite of scouts as they learn more and more about him.
Zierlein hit the nail on the head when he stated that Claypool was a better football player than Boykin. While not a knock at all on Boykin, who was outstanding at times during the 2018 season, Claypool’s final season was far superior to Boykin’s final season, but Claypool was a key player for the Irish for three seasons, whereas Boykin was really only a factor in one season.
Miles Boykin — 77 catches, 1,206 yards, 11 touchdowns
Chase Claypool — 150 catches, 2,159 yards, 19 touchdowns
I’ll have more on Claypool in the coming days. I’ll dive deeper into what’s at stake for him at the combine.