Former Notre Dame star Chase Claypool is big enough that he could sometimes line up at tight end in the NFL but mostly will be a mismatch at wideout. Pittsburgh took him in the second round of the draft. Here are Claypool’s odds at Mybookie to win 2020 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year as well as the Steelers’ over/under win total.
Pittsburgh selected Claypool at No. 49 overall in April’s draft. “When we got down to the Senior Bowl and Coach Tomlin and I got up close on the practice field and watched his physicality and blocking drills, his physicality and special-teams drills, it really stood out” said Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert of picking Claypool.
Not too many Canadians go on to have stellar college football career but Claypool, who is from British Columbia, sure did at Notre Dame. Although eligible as a Canadian and rated as the No. 2 overall prospect, Claypool went undrafted in the 2020 CFL Draft. Teams in Canada didn’t bother since it was clear he was going to play in the NFL.
As a freshman in 2016, he became the eighth player from Canada to appear in varsity action for the Irish and played in all 12 games but had just six catches.
As a sophomore, he played in all 12 again and started eight. Claypool ranked second on the Irish in both receptions (29) and receiving yards (402). The next year, he finished the season second on the team with 639 receiving yards on 50 receptions and four TDs.
Then last year, Claypool led the Irish with 66 catches for 1,037 yards and 13 touchdowns while playing in all 13 games. The 13 TD catches were sixth most in Notre Dame history. He had a four-TD game in a win over Navy. Claypool also was named Camping World Bowl MVP after making seven catches for 146 yards and a score in win against Iowa State. He would finish with 150 career catches, seventh in school history.
Unpolished at the position due to his start in basketball, Claypool didn’t turn heads until his senior year with a 28 percent target share, further flying up draft boards with a sterling showing of elite speed (99th-percentile 4.42 40) and hops (40.5-inch vertical) at Indy’s Combine. On tape, he was a difficult tackle on underneath targets — Pro Football Focus charted him with 27 broken tackles on 151 career catches — and buoyed his elite body control and size into 16 catches 20-plus yards downfield in ’19.
He runs routes like a slot receiver and can catch screens and get the ball upfield as if he was 190 pounds as opposed to the 230+ pounds he walks around at. Claypool is a huge (6-foot-4, 238 pounds) and physical receiver with terrific speed (4.42 40-yard dash) and playmaking ability. He has experience as a perimeter receiver, but some NFL teams also preferred him at tight end. Claypool is unlikely to see many targets as a rookie with JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson and James Washington ahead of him on the depth chart.
Offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner “anticipates” Claypool playing primarily out wide. The 21-year-old logged just 106 snaps (a three-year low) from the middle of the field in his final season with the Fighting Irish but could still be shifted there in the red zone to leverage his size. Coaches have spoken about him as somebody who adds something to the offense that they were missing. A big vertical threat. A presence in the red zone.
Claypool also is a very good blocker at his size. In fact, he likes it.
“It’s almost a chance to play the defensive side of the ball, if you will, just that extra physicality”, he said. “I always played defense growing up, so if I can kind of get the chance to take someone to the ground legally, I’m gonna jump all over that opportunity. I had some bets with the offensive linemen throughout the Notre Dame season that I’d have more pancakes than some of them. Maybe we’ll get that going with me and Kevin, but it’s just something that I love to do.”