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Many were shocked when we graded/scouted Chase Claypool as the #1 WR prospect for the 2020 NFL Draft...well, no one is laughing now. Here's (below) a copy of our Claypool report, a sampling of the work that we do in the offseason as prep for the NFL Draft and then Dynasty Rookie Drafts...and then the NFL/Fantasy season.
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NFL Draft 2020 Scouting Report: WR Chase Claypool, Notre Dame (March 2020)
*WR grades can and will change as more information comes in from Pro Day workouts, Wonderlic test results leaked, etc. We will update ratings as new info becomes available.
*WR-B stands for "Big-WR," a classification we use to separate the more physical, downfield/over-the-top, heavy-red-zone-threat-type WRs. Our WR-S/"Small-WRs" are profiled by our computer more as slot and/or possession-type WRs who are typically less physical and rely more on speed/agility to operate underneath the defense and/or use big speed to get open deep...they are not used as weapons in the red zone as much.
First things first, Chase Claypool is not a tight end prospect…he’s not a ‘nice move to tight end’ (thus failed/uninteresting WR prospect). The only reason for this ‘probably moves to tight end’ scouting take (by many scouts pre-Combine) is because the scouts and analysts didn’t believe in him as a great WR prospect going into the Combine (and far too many still don’t today).
He is not a tight end prospect -- he is a great WR prospect; and THEY just missed it, per usual.
It was easy for football people to pigeonhole/see Claypool as ‘Big guy no one is talking about who doesn’t play for Alabama or even in the SEC, so he must not be that good…but he’s big so what about a tight end conversion?’ I’m sure scouts thought this was quite savvy. You had to go in and really look at his body of work, his tape and then watch him at the Senior Bowl to get the true picture being hidden from the lazy scouts.
I mean…why aren’t people totally gushing/beaming over Claypool and his athleticism numbers? Claypool is faster than CeeDee Lamb, a far superior overall athletic measurables, 3+ inches taller and 30+ pounds bigger. Who wouldn’t want that asset in the NFL? I can find Lamb’s physical and style profile in a half a dozen WRs in this draft…but there’s nothing like Claypool. Even Denzel Mims, as mind-boggling as his Combine numbers were – Claypool is about as straight-line fast and 1.5” inches taller and 30+ pounds thicker.
But, for me…it was never purely about the extreme size/athleticism of Claypool – I thought Claypool was arguably the best all-around WR prospect (I have it between him and Michael Pittman) from my Senior Bowl scouting previews and the Combine previews vs. the Lamb-Jeudy-Ruggs, etc., of the world.
Obviously, I saw the size and nice movement in Claypool, which really turbocharged things for me in January-February…but I never imagined he was THAT big and THAT fast/athletic until he showed it at the Combine. I began my analysis on him loving his size PLUS his wide receiver ability. Claypool is one of the smoothest WR prospects in this draft off the snap, running into a route, and has the ability to stop on a dime in routes/cuts plus he has really good hands – he’s a great WR technician as it is, with a big catch radius, and then you find out he has freakish size-athleticism to go with it -- how are analysts not going bananas for him…instead of just giving him the “I like this kid, good Combine” pat on the head?
I believe Claypool is a hidden gem of a WR talent…and you can’t see it by just glancing at some game/highlight tape or seeing his solid 2019 season numbers. It’s easy to dismiss Claypool’s tape if you don’t stick with it, watch several games and get a feel for what he was working with at Notre Dame…what was holding him back/hiding him some.
Two big issues he faced that most other top WR prospects didn’t…
Issue #1: Notre Dame starting QB Ian Book.
Ian Book plays quarterback like a guy who, before each game, washes down a handful of amphetamines/speed with several Red Bulls. He plays quarterback like the ball was a secret hot potato…a hot potato that must be gotten rid of quickly before it blows up in his hand like a grenade. Watching him in 2019 games…Book often dropped back to pass and was immediately looking to dump the ball within 0-7 yards of the line of scrimmage, to a receiver he had already predetermined.
That receiver wasn’t typically Claypool, because Claypool was running deep routes A LOT…and Book was getting rid of the ball before Claypool was halfway into his deep/ghost route Book wasn’t looking at anyway. Had Claypool played at LSU in 2019, he might have caught 2,000 yards worth of passes with 30 TDs…I’m not joking. With Notre Dame/Book…a lid was put on his output/tape.
Issue #2: The deep routes.
Because Claypool kept going deep most plays, by design, he was rarely the target for the quick/short passing Ian Book. Claypool usually saw his targets when plays broke down and Book was heaving it downfield to the biggest/most visible option or later in games when Notre Dame was down and needing to move the ball – then Book wanted Claypool shots. And a lot of time, Claypool made hay with these erratic targets, making some unreal catches on misfired passes or up for grabs heaves.
The constant deep patterns hid the fact that Claypool is a gifted route runner and has such a big body to shield defenders away…he’s a great option in a real passing game with a real quarterback. At Notre Dame, he was criminally misused in this offense as the take everyone deep so Ian Book could throw underneath with more space available primary pass game plan.
I remember scouting Tyrell Williams at Western Oregon…another big guy with ‘wow’ speed/athleticism numbers in college. Williams’ stats at his tiny college were not befitting of his talents…and because of that many scouts overlooked him/wrote him off and he went undrafted. I was pounding my fist on the table for Williams as one of the top WR prospects in his draft because when you watched the tape you could see he was open all the time, was wildly dominant on every snap or target – it’s just his surrounding offense was utterly stupid, and just sent him deep every play with a crappy QB who then loved to dump safe, short passes near the line of scrimmage. Williams couldn’t reveal his full skill because of his surroundings – Claypool has a similar issue…and Claypool is a WAY better all-around WR than Tyrell Williams was.
The hidden piece to the puzzle with Claypool is not that his high-end size-athleticism numbers have been revealed, it’s that he’s a really great technical wide receiver. And when you put those two things together…you have the potential for something special for the NFL.
On top of his WR skills, Claypool also has a toughness to his mindset/game. He has never been the golden child WR prospect the media fawned over. He’s had to work his way from little known Canadian high school prospect to eventual #1 WR for Notre Dame. He began his Fighting Irish journey as their special teams tackle leader as a freshman. Brian Kelly, Notre Dame’s tough, sometimes crotchety head coach said that Claypool was a warrior, one of the toughest kids he’s coached…and that Claypool played though nagging injuries in 2019 or he might have had even better numbers (and he had nice 2019 numbers 66-1,037-13 in 13 games).
Claypool played special teams all four years at Notre Dame…and you don’t get that gritty mindset from Lamb-Jeudy-Higgins, I’ll tell you that. Claypool is a smart, well-spoken, humble, determined football player – the kind of package of talent and mentality that should have him in the argument for #1 WR prospect of 2020…but you cannot crack the mainstream’s Lamb-Jeudy-Higgins-Jefferson-Ruggs cluster easily. Claypool, Michael Pittman, and Denzel Mims should be rated higher than the Lamb-Jeudy-Higgins-Jefferson-Ruggs cluster, but they probably won’t get the deserved heat because they played at less sexy schools, didn’t get on TV as much, and worked with non-exciting quarterbacks.
Chase Claypool, Through the Lens of Our WR Scouting Algorithm:
Claypool’s toughest opponents in 2019 were Georgia, Michigan, Virginia Tech, Iowa State/bowl. In those four games he averaged a solid+: 5.8 rec., 93.0 yards, and 0.50 TDs per game.
Claypool accounted for 34% of QB Ian Book’s passing yards and 38% of his passing TDs. Among the top WR names, only Jalen Reagor and CeeDee Lamb hit those ‘share’ levels or higher.
Claypool was starting to hum as the season wore on…9 TDs in his final five games of the season, including a 4 TD game vs. Navy.
On special teams, for his career – 25 tackles and 2 fumble recoveries.
NFL Combine Measurables…
6’4.2”/238, 9 7/8” hands, 32.5” arms
40.5” vertical, 10’6” broad, 19 bench press
Note…Claypool was near the top of the Combine WRs in 40-time, hands size, vertical, and bench press – he just wasn’t shocking in athleticism for his size, he was high-end for any size WR…but it’s more impressive that he did that at 238 pounds.
The NFL physical comps/a-likes comparison for what Claypool did at the NFL Combine was Calvin Johnson.
The Historical WR Prospects to Whom Chase Claypool Most Compares Within Our System:
Since watching Claypool pre-Senior Bowl and pre-Combine, I thought he reminded me of a faster Mike Evans, and that’s what he is in our system.
Darren Waller and Matt Jones were converts to TE at a certain point…but Waller is much taller/better built for adding weight and moving to TE. Ditto Matt Jones who was just an off-the-charts athlete who let drugs steal his career. If Claypool converts to tight end, which I don’t think he will…then he’d probably be a pretty lethal receiving weapon at TE.
*COMP TABLE ON THE OFFICIAL CFM SCOUTING REPORT*
*A score of 7.0+ is where we start to take a Big-WR prospect more seriously. A score of 8.50+ is where we see a stronger correlation of a Big-WR going on to become NFL good/great/elite. A score of 10.00+ is more rarefied air in our system and indicates a greater probability of becoming an elite NFL Big-WR.
All of the WR ratings are based on a 0–10 scale, but a player can score negative, or above a 10.0 in certain instances.
Overall WR score = A combination of several on-field performance measures, including refinement for strength of opponents faced, mixed with all the physical measurement metrics, and rated historically in our database.
“Power-Strength” = A combination of unique metrics surrounding physical size profiling, bench press strength, etc. High scorers here project to be more physical, better blockers, and less injury-prone.
“Speed-Agility” = A combination of unique metrics surrounding speed, agility, physical size, mixed with some on-field performance metrics. High scorers here project to have a better YAC and show characteristics to be used as deep threats/to create separation.
“Hands” = A combination of unique metrics surrounding on-field performance in college, considering the strength of opponents played. Furthermore, this data considers some physical profiling for hand size, etc. High scorers here have a better track record of college statistical performance. Everything combining to project catch-abilities for the next level.
2020 NFL Draft Outlook:
Claypool’s rise to the late 1st-round has yet to begin, but I think he’ll find his way into the 1st-round eventually. When real NFL scouts start digging in – there will be people who will uncover the things of which I speak. This pick has Mike Mayock all over it for Las Vegas (has good connections within Notre Dame). Worst case, Claypool goes top 50 overall.
If I were an NFL GM, I’m licking my chops at the potential of teams chasing Lamb-Jeudy-Jefferson-Higgins and leaving me guys like Claypool, Mims, and Pittman for a much better draft value. If you want the top WR talent in this draft…Claypool is very much in that discussion.
Likely to be drafted to a team with established WRs, and Claypool gets to join as a #2 WR outside threat who can get up to speed at his own pace, but he should be able to produce quickly given his size speed – you can play deep ball with him, better than D.K. Metcalf, but you can also run him on normal routes short-medium and abuse 6’0”/190 corners all game long. Eventually, Claypool can be a true NFL #1 WR for a team.
If Claypool isn’t as effective as Mike Evans, or better (better because of his better route-running abilities)…I’ll be disappointed.
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