The Advantages Chase Claypool Has Over Other Wide Receiver Prospects
Ever since the Senior Bowl at the end of January, many NFL Draft analysts have been stating that, at 6-4 and 229 pounds, former Notre Dame wide receiver Chase Claypool is better off making the move to tight end.
While this potential position change only adds to his overall value as a draft prospect, it does seem as if Claypool sees this as more of a fall-back plan and with good reason.
Even as a big-bodied wide receiver, Claypool has several advantages over other pass catchers in the 2020 NFL Draft class, which experts such as Mel Kiper Jr. consider to be historically deep.
He Played the W, X and Z
With each passing year, NFL offenses are becoming more and more advanced and that makes versatility a must have.
This can, however, create a steep learning curve for many collegiate wide receivers transitioning to the pro game.
“There’s a lot of learning that takes place. The way the college game has gone, it just depends on what systems they've been in,” said Matt LaFleur, the Green Bay Packers head coach and a former quarterbacks coach at Notre Dame. “There are certain guys here that have maybe only lined up on one side of the field — maybe they only line up on the left side.
“Certainly, at our level, we’re going to move guys around, and try and create matchups or whatever it may be.”
The good news for Claypool is that LaFleur’s constructive criticism doesn’t apply to him.
Throughout his four seasons with the Fighting Irish, Claypool lined up all over the field, playing all three wide receiver positions.
As a sophomore, he frequently lined up in the slot to utilize his ability as a blocker in the run game (Z). The following season he played to the field (X), opposite Miles Boykin. Then, during his breakout senior campaign, Claypool became Notre Dame’s go-to wide receiver, lining up in the boundary (W).
“I proved that can be versatile in terms of inside, outside and number three receiver or flex tight end,” Claypool said. “I’m one of those rare guys who line up all positions on the field and do well, especially [because] I did exactly that during my college career.”
From the minute Claypool set foot on campus, he was a star on special teams and participated on as many units as he could. As a freshman, he had 11 tackles on special teams.
As his role on the offensive side of the ball increased, he wasn’t on as many special team units, but he still found a way to be a very productive player, primarily on the punt team.
During his junior and senior seasons, Claypool still had a combined 13 total tackles and two fumble recoveries, one of which came in the Camping World Bowl against Iowa State and completely changed the momentum.
Expectedly, NFL teams have been talking to Claypool about his ability to thrive on special teams at the next level, a trait he doesn’t shy away from.
“They don’t have to even bring it up for me to want to play it,” he said. “That’s something I’m going to want to do at the next level, all four units if I can. Any value I can add to myself, I'll do it.”
While it’s not rare for a wide receiver to play special teams, not many do it with the aggressive mentality Claypool possess, his tackling ability and most of them aren’t 6-4 and 230 pounds.