I have been saying for weeks that Chase Claypool would not last until the third round like many Draft “experts” were predicting, and he did not. The Pittsburgh Steelers selected Claypool #49 overall in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft – the second Notre Dame player to be drafted on Friday night.
The 2020 NFL Draft has been the draft of the wide receiver so far. Six wide receivers were selected in the first round of the draft and Claypool was the fifth to be selected in the second round when the Steelers selected him 49th overall.
Claypool walks into a pretty good situation in Pittsburgh. The Steelers have an elite WR1 in JuJu Smith Schuster, but after him, their wide receiver depth chart is full of unproven players. That should give Claypool and opportunity for immediate playing time as one of Ben Roethlisberger’s weapons.
Claypool left Notre Dame after a banner senior season that saw him collect 13 touchdowns and record over 1,000 yards. He has steadily improved over each of the last three seasons. He ended his Notre Dame career with 150 receptions for 2,159 yards and 19 touchdowns over the last four years.
On top of adding a big, physical receiver with 4.4 speed, the Steelers are adding an elite special teams player. Claypool was a mainstay on Notre Dame’s coverage units the last three years – even in 2019 when he was the teams WR1. He collected five tackles on special teams in 2019 alone.
After the season, Claypool moved himself up draft boards with an impressive week of practice at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama and then turning in a historic performance at the NFL Combine in February. It was there that Claypool posted a 4.42 time int he 40-yard dash while weighing in at 238 lbs. Claypool was the first wide receiver since Calvin Johnson to post those speed numbers at his size.
Claypool’s Combine performance was the second year in a row in which a Notre Dame wide receiver put on a show. In 2019, Miles Boykin ran a blazing 40-yard dash for a big receiver as well. Claypool ended up being drafted higher than his former teammate was a year earlier though. The Baltimore Ravens selected Boykin in the 3rd round of 2019 Draft last April.
Claypool came to Notre Dame as a raw, physical specimen who got better each year he was on campus. Early in his career there were concerns over his maturity and focus, but this past season Claypool put it all together and heads into his NFL career with his best football still very much ahead of him.
Notre Dame has now had two players selected in the NFL Draft this year. Earlier tonight, the Chicago Bears selected Notre Dame tight end Cole Kmet with the 43rd overall pick in the draft. Julian Okwara, Khalid Kareem, and Troy Pride also figure to hear their names called tonight before all is said and done.