Former Notre Dame standout wide receiver Chase Claypool is heading to the NFL as part of a deep and talented wide receiver class.
"This is the deepest and most talented group (of receivers) since the vaunted 2014 class that featured Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, Odell Beckham Jr., Brandin Cooks, Davante Adams, Allen Robinson II, Jarvis Landry and John Brown," wrote Pro Football Focus draft analyst Mike Renner. "That class had five receivers go in the first round and seen more in Round 2 ... don't be surprised if the 2020 class comes close to topping the 2014 class."
Claypool entered the draft cycle as an overlooked member of the draft class despite a brilliant 2019 season in which he hauled in 66 passes for 1,037 yards and 13 touchdowns. Claypool was especially good late in the season, catching 37 passes for 601 yards (16.2 YPC) and nine touchdowns in the final six games.
The Reese's Senior Bowl was the first chance for Claypool to make a strong postseason statement about where he should stand in this deep class, and the former Irish star made the most of the opportunity.
Claypool impressed with his size and ball skills, as was expected, but his athleticism surprised some in attendance, at least based on what the expectations were for the 6-4, 229-pound pass catcher.
NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein named Claypool the "biggest winner" of the Senior Bowl practices.
"I really enjoyed watching Claypool on tape and couldn't wait to see him perform in person on the Senior Bowl stage. I was not disappointed, and neither were the NFL evaluators in attendance. Not only does he look the part of a big, imposing receiver, he showed off how fluid and natural he is with his movement. He snatched the ball away from his frame with strong hands and created separation using his size and athleticism. The easy comparison for him is former teammate Miles Boykin, who had the same type of size and explosiveness, but Boykin went to the Baltimore Ravens at the end of the third round in last year's draft. Claypool may not last that long now. I think he pushed himself into Round 2 this week."
The Athletic NFL Draft analyst Dane Brugler ranks Claypool as the No. 92 overall prospect and No. 17 wide receiver in the 2020 Draft class. If Claypool was selected in that range it would put him in the late third-round of the draft. Brugler was impressed with Claypool's performance.
"With his size (6-4, 229 pounds), Claypool looks like the type of target who will post up and out-physical defenders to the football. And while he is capable of doing that, his freaky athleticism has really stood out during practices as the trait that could separate him from others on draft boards. On tape, Claypool looked very upright in his routes, which made it tough for him to shake press and create snap out of his breaks. But during drills, he is playing much more loose to defeat the jam and separate at the top of the route with sink. Claypool is known for his impressive athleticism, but he is using that fluidity more effectively as a route-runner during practice compared with his college tape."
ESPN analyst Louis Riddick, one of the best evaluators in the business, called Claypool a physical freak based on his Senior Bowl performance.
As I wrote in the Senior Bowl preview for Claypool, the week of practice was a chance for the former Irish star to change the narrative regarding his speed and athleticism, which is better than advertised.
During the practices Claypool was measured as having the second fastest wide receiver performance during drills.
If Claypool can carry that into the NFL Scouting Combine and post a sub-4.5 in the 40-yard dash his stock will rise even higher.
Claypool will now get a chance to finish the week off with a strong performance in the game, which will take place Saturday, Jan. 25 at 2:30 PM (ET). The game will be aired on the NFL Network. Claypool and his former Irish teammates Troy Pride Jr., Jalen Elliott and Alohi Gilman will all play for the North team.
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