It was only a matter of time. After this historic performance at the NFL Combine in February, Notre Dame wide receiver Chase Claypool is popping up into the 1st round of mock drafts from well known NFL Draft Experts. Most recently, ESPN’s Mel Kiper, the godfather of NFL Draft experts, has Claypool being selected in the first round. It’s about damn time.
Kiper has Claypool getting selected at the end of the 1st round, going 30th overall to the Green Bay Packers. The full mock draft is an ESPN premium article, so we won’t share exactly what Kiper says about Claypool’s chances of being selected by the Packers, but you can imagine that landing in Green Bay with Aaron Rodgers throwing him the ball would be a pretty ideal landing spot.
Before the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine, Claypool was outside of the top 100 prospects in the draft by many draft services. At the time, I thought it was ridiculous given Claypool’s production on a national stage and the improvement he showed each year.
Receivers with Claypool’s size and speed are rare. It took Claypool’s Combine performance to open up their eyes. Right now, it feels like there is no way Claypool lasts past the 2nd round. Whether or not he sneaks into the 1st round remains to be seen, but it certainly looks possible now. It should be noted, however, that Kiper has historically evaluated Notre Dame prospects higher than many others.
Because Claypool absolutely crushed the Combine and performed well at the Senior Bowl, combined with the loss of Pro Days and pre-draft visits this year with the country locked down due to the COVID-19 outbreak, he should continue to move up draft boards. Notre Dame prospects, in general, should see their stocks improve because of the loss of most of the normal pre-draft activities.
I will continue to hold out hope that my Philadelphia Eagles can somehow land Claypool, given their dire need at receiver and their reluctance to spend any money on the position in free agency. My dream scenario for them is still to end up with Claypool and Penn State’s KJ Hamler. If they can trade down in the 1st round to scoop up Claypool and get more picks and still add Hamler, I will have my very own quarantine party.
The last Notre Dame wide receiver to get selected in the 1st round was just four years ago when the Houston Texans selected Will Fuller. His career has been derailed a bit by injury after injury, but when healthy, he has been a dynamic weapon for Deshaun Watson and the Texans offense. It looks like Claypool could end up joining Fuller as a 1st round selection. That would give Brian Kelly three 1st-round wide receiver picks produced on his watch.
One final note, the NFL still is planning on having the draft on April 25-27 but NFL GMs are pushing for the league to postpone it given the difficulties in evaluating prospects with the loss of Pro Days, pre-draft visits, and other normal activities.