According to ESPN’s Matt Bowen (subscription), the Indianapolis Colts are the best fit for Notre Dame wideout Chase Claypool among the 2020 NFL Draft’s top wide receiver prospects:
The senior wideout caught a team-high 66 receptions for 1,037 receiving yards (15.7 ypr. avg.) and 13 touchdown receptions in 13 starts this past season.
Where Claypool really soared up draft boards though was at this year’s NFL Combine.
At 6’4”, 238 pounds, among all wide receivers, he recorded a 4.42 forty yard dash (7th best), 19 bench press reps (5th best), a 40.5 inch vertical (4th best), and 126.0 inch broad jump (11th best).
His SPARQ rating (which measures overall athleticism) was in the ~98% NFL Percentile, which was the 3rd best among all wideouts in his draft class.
Simply put, measurables wise, Claypool is an absolute athletic freak:
#NotreDame receiver, Chase Claypool, tested at the 80th percentile or better in the forty, vertical, and broad jump at 238 pounds.— Context Matters (@dwainmcfarland) March 3, 2020
Since 2005, only Matt Jones, Calvin Johnson, Julio Jones, D.K. Metcalf, and Miles Boykin have accomplished those marks at 220 plus. #NFLCombine pic.twitter.com/eBt6k8lfmD
Notre Dame wide receiver Chase Claypool was one of the biggest winners of the day, finishing with a 97 Athleticism Score per the Next Gen Stats Draft Model.— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) February 28, 2020
At 6'4, 238 lbs, Claypool ran a 4.42 40-yard dash, the only WR over 230 lbs to break 4.45 since Calvin Johnson (2007). pic.twitter.com/piL2rydCV9
Chase Claypool at the 2020 NFL Combine— NFL Research (@NFLResearch) February 28, 2020
• Bigger than Cameron Wake
• Faster than Odell Beckham Jr.
• Stronger than Jared Allen
• Jumps higher than Julio Jones
• More explosive than Devin Hester@ChaseClaypool @NDFootball pic.twitter.com/4fLbNWInHv
Now, Claypool isn’t quite as explosive as he tests, but the big bodied wideout has a huge catch radius, can make highly contested catches, and win 50-50 jumpballs downfield.
What also helps separate Claypool is his overall competitiveness—as he’s incredibly physical and actively seeks out contact after the catch and as a run blocker.
Thus, it’s no surprise that with his unique combination of size, speed, and physicality, he’s also a standout special teams performer—and should be at the next level as well.
Where Claypool struggles is his fluidity in-and-out of routes, separation at times, and that he’s more of a straight-line speed runner. He also has pretty good but not necessarily great hands, but that’s probably just nitpicking.
At his immense size as a wideout, there’s been some chatter among league circles that Claypool could eventually transition to becoming an NFL tight end.
Fortunately for the Colts, general manager Chris Ballard needs to find an outside wide receiver to pair on the other side of speedy star T.Y. Hilton, as well as a big red zone target over the middle to replace departed Pro Bowl tight end Eric Ebron.
Whether Claypool becomes Rivers’ big bodied downfield threat on the outside or serves more as a hybrid wide receiver-tight end operating as a dynamic possession receiver inside, he’d really help the Colts offense next season in either capacity regardless.
Claypool would provide the Colts a mismatch nightmare for opposing secondaries that head coach Frank Reich could actively scheme for.
The former Fighting Irish star could be available with either the #34th or #44th overall pick, and given his total package of size, speed, athleticism, production, and competitiveness, he definitely seems like a top wide receiver prospect of interest for the Colts.
The fit for both sides is definitely there, and Claypool even played in the ‘Colts own backyard’ in South Bend, Indiana.