We’re less than 48 hours away from the most anticipated draft in NFL history. After a month of no live sports, Thursday will be the first sporting event whose outcome is unknown aired on live TV since the sports world shut down for the coronavirus. This close to the draft, we’ve reached silly season with mock drafts, and one of the silliest scenarios I’ve seen so far is Chase Claypool lasting until the late 3rd round.
Any time I’ve seen a recent mock draft with Chase Claypool lasting until the 3rd round, I’m reminded of NFL Insider Ian Rapoport’s tweet over the weekend that a GM told him that the media has never been more wrong with their mock draft than they are this year.
I had a GM tell me, “The media is wronger about mock drafts this year than you guys have ever been.” Point being, players are going to be taken in places no one expects. https://t.co/oyDHSndqkl
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 17, 2020
In any typical year, mock drafts are less accurate than even the worst weather forecast. NFL execs feed draft experts what they want to be become known to spread some disinformation. Now this year, with no pro days or media events since the Combine because of the near nationwide shutdown, there is even less opportunity to get intel to inform what are already typically very inaccurate.
Draft experts seem to have their preconceived list of top wide receivers in this year’s draft, and not much has changed their minds this year. Claypool was outside of the top 100 prospects from some before the Combine, and even since putting on a historic showing in Indianapolis, he is still very untreated by most mock drafts even though a few select have him sneaking into the 1st round of the draft.
Wide receivers like Chase Claypool are rare. So rare, that the last receiver Claypool’s size to run a 40-yard dash as fast as he did at the Combine was a guy named Calvin Johnson. A receiver like that, with the production to match Claypool’s, is not lasting until the late third-round – even in a historically deep wide receiver draft class.
As a senior, Claypool hauled in 66 passes for 1,037 yards and 13 touchdowns. He improved his season reception total from 29 to 50 to 66 over the last three seasons. Those 13 touchdowns were more than double the sum he snagged the previous two seasons combined. Translation: Claypool is a player who is only getting better.
Claypool’s production exceeded that of former Notre Dame wide receiver Miles Boykin’s while he put on an even more impressive performance than Boykin at the Combine. Boykin was a 3rd round pick of the Baltimore Ravens a year ago.
I would be more surprised with Claypool being a 3rd round pick than being a 1st round pick at this point. It would be very easy for an NFL team to fall in love with Claypool’s freakish athletic profile and use their first-rounder on him.
Working in Claypool’s favor is the lack of Pro Days and team visits this year. NFL teams lost a lot of in personal evaluation time that they would typically have had this year. Claypool tore up the Combine, has rare size/athleticism, and has the production to match. When an NFL exec is making a bet between Claypool and another of the second-tier receivers, it’s very easy to imagine a scenario where that exec falls back
The second round seems like a good bet for Claypool, though. After the three top receivers like Ceedee Lamb, Henry Ruggs, and Jerry Jeudy are off the board, most draft experts have any real idea how real NFL execs feel about the next their of receivers such as Denzel Mims of Baylor, Brandon Aiyuk of Arizona State, Tee Higgins of Clemson, Justin Jefferson of LSU, and Jalen Reagor of TCU. Claypool is easily in that group.
I stand by my dream scenario for my Philadelphia Eagles in which they trade back from 21st overall to land Claypool and an extra pick before then selecting Penn State’s speedy KJ Hamler in the second round. If my beloved Eagles don’t land Claypool, I don’t see him getting passed the second round. 6’4″, 232 lbs wide receivers who run a 4.42 40-yard dash coming off of 1,000+ yard, 13 TD seasons don’t last until the third round.