Notre Dame players made themselves some money this week in Mobile, Alabama at the Senior Bowl. All week long in practice, former Irish standouts made news for their impressive performances in practice. That carried over to the field on Saturday when a quartet of Notre Dame’s stars from 2019 shined bright playing against other college football all-stars.
In case you missed who all was down in Alabama this week from Notre Dame, here’s the list of the four Golden Domers who participated.
- Chase Claypool, WR
- Troy Pride Jr, CB
- Jalen Elliott, S
- Alohi Gilman, S
Chase Claypool does what he does, finds the end zone
If there was one player of the four who had the most to gain this week, it was Claypool. His Notre Dame teammates had more to prove as potential late-round picks, but Claypool has top end of the draft talent. His only problem this year is that this is a historically deep and talented wide receiver draft class. In other words, Claypool needs to take advantage of every opportunity he has to move himself into the early round discussion because amazingly, he was absent on many 3-round mock drafts and top 100 lists before the Senior Bowl.
Yesterday he capped off an impressive week of practice by finding the endzone with a nice route on a beautiful play design (or maybe it was just busted coverage). Either way, here is Claypool finding paydirt as he did for Notre Dame 13 times this year (tied for 7th in the nation).
Chase Claypool ?
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) January 25, 2020
Yesterday wasn’t just a fluke play for Claypool either. He was dominant all week long in practice. Here is what NFL.com had to say about the work Claypool did throughout the week.
Chase Claypool, WR, Notre Dame. 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.
Some mock drafts have as many as seven receivers going in the first round this year – that is how deep this wide receiver class is. If Claypool played himself into the second round, that’s a big win for him this week considering where he was projected a few weeks ago. With his size and speed, the second round really should be the floor for him in the draft. He is going to wow scouts at the combine the way Miles Boykin did a year ago.
Troy Pride Jr Caps Off Week with Interception
I wrote on Friday about how Troy Pride Jr was rocketing up draft boards with the way he played in practice all week long already, and like Claypool, he capped off an impressive week of work with a big play. Here’s a clip of Pride picking off Colorado QB Steven Montez for the North squad late in the third quarter.
Troy Pride Jr. (@NDFootball) with the pick for the North!
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) January 25, 2020
The interception itself was more o a product of the pass rush – and terrible blocking – but Pride getting his hands on the ball and remembering he can now get up off the ground if he hasn’t been touched and run with the ball can’t hurt his soaring stock. If Pride comes out and runs a low 4.3 40 yard dash like expected, he is going to get drafted a lot higher than most expected initially. In fact, if he does run a blazing 40, it shouldn’t be a surprise if he gets drafted higher than Julian Love did last year.
Jalen Elliott Wins Defensive Back of Week
Like his teammates, Jalen Elliott was listed as one of the risers by many during the week of practice. Elliott came in without a lot of fanfare but showcased excellent coverage skills all week long – skills that sometimes went overlooked at Notre Dame because he was doing his job and not giving up plays this year. In 2019 Elliott got his hands on more footballs, so on the surface, it may have appeared he regressed this year, but he was a big reason why Notre Dame ranked 5th in the country in pass efficiency defense in 2019.
Here is a little taste of what Elliott did all week long in practice.
Some NFL scouts at the Senior Bowl said Notre Dame's Jalen Elliott was the biggest riser of any prospect in Mobile. pic.twitter.com/no5JLmqzH9
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) January 25, 2020
For his efforts, he was named the North team’s defensive back of the week as voted on by the players who he practiced against all week long. He is still probably more of a late-round pick, but he very likely ensured himself of being selected as opposed to being an undrafted free agent with his performance this week.
Alohi Gilman Flashes Speed
The knock on Alohi Gilman is and always has been size and speed. One of those things he can’t really do anything about (size), but the other (speed) he can help himself with between now and the draft. And he did a hell of a good job dispelling that argument this week in Mobile. Gilman was one of the five fastest clocked players in practice this week – just a hair slower than Pride and faster than Claypool.
“He can’t run” ? https://t.co/7afFtFcuq5
— Alohi Gilman (@alohigilman) January 23, 2020
Gilman clearly has heard he can’t run and is tired of hearing it.
He also has apparently been told he can’t cover. Well, he covered pretty well this week.
“He can’t Cover” ?…Line me up anywhere on the field it’s a done deal‼️ https://t.co/HI0hhIspR7
— Alohi Gilman (@alohigilman) January 26, 2020
For Gilman, putting up numbers like that at the Senior Bowl, at the Combine, and then at Notre Dame’s Pro Day will be the difference between signing as an undrafted free agent, and being a mid to late-round pick. His tape shows a guy who is always around the football and lays the wood when he gets a chance. By some, however, he is still looked at as a “former Navy football player,” which carries the stigma of being slow and undersized.
While the wide receiver class is historically deep, the defensive back class isn’t. Gilman took a big step towards securing himself a spot in the later rounds of the draft this week and can improve his stock even more at the Combine and at Notre Dame’s pro day.
This is going to be a really fun Draft to follow for Notre Dame fans with these four in the mix along with Cole Kmet, Khalid Kareem, Julian Okwara, Chris Finke, Jamir Jones, Tony Jones Jr, and Asmar Bilal. We’ll have plenty of coverage of their journeys to the NFL over the next few months.