Chase Claypool is not your typical college wide receiver.

Standing at 6’4″ and 230 lbs, with athleticism to move in open space, Claypool is legitimately positioning himself to be a top target in the 2020 NFL Draft. The Notre Dame receiver has prototypical size, length and has shown most to all things that NFL scouts want to see. He is a phenomenal prospect and has the potential to be great in the pro leagues.

In the Fighting Irish’s game against the Georgia Bulldogs this past Saturday, Claypool showed high ceiling potential against one of the best defenses in the country. He logged 6 receptions for 66 yards and a touchdown and was the threat Ian Book needed to efficiently move the football.

Coming into this season, not much has been said about the senior receiver. He was an “under the radar” candidate, ranked as a 6th round prospect (194 overall) on The Draft Network’s opening prospect board. Claypool’s old tape was plagued with drops, lack of quickness and inconsistency. Chase also hadn’t produced as well as people had wanted him to, as he is just now keying in on 100 career catches. People knew Claypool was a big-bodied receiver but wanted to see him separate this season.

Let’s take a good dive into the tape and see what we can find about Chase Claypool.

Chase Claypool’s touchdown in Georgia

The first play I want to look at is Chase Claypool’s touchdown catch against Georgia. The situation: Notre Dame is down by 13 and they need a score as they are running out of time. Claypool is positioned to the shorter side of the field as the ball is spotted on the right hash. This gives him much less space to work with, as offenses generally work the side of the field with more space to create a little more margin for error.

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Break it down, Johnny.

The first thing that pops from this play is Claypool’s quickness. Notice how quickly he get’s set on the curl. He starts with a hop step, keeping the defensive back honest. A lot of receivers use the hop step to mask which direction that they are about to cut, giving defenders a key on a change of direction. Claypool uses this to his advantage and starts the route with the hop step (hesitation) before going into his next 5 yards.

When Claypool gets to the end of the route, he’s turning quickly and on a dime. The defensive back covering him (Georgia’s senior safety Tyrique McGee) loses a couple of steps at this point trying to come back. The hesitation at the beginning of the route, combined with Claypool accelerating those five yards suggests now to McGee that it’s a fade route to the back pylon and that’s what he is playing against. However, the quickness at which Claypool turns around and is ready for the ball is impressive.

The last part of this play: Claypool simply out-bodies McGee. Because he gained the positioning on the throw that he needed, now he shields McGee away from the ball and makes the catch. It’s not an ordinary catch, it’s a toe-tapping, fully extended catch that is impressive within itself – while absorbing contact.

What scouts took away from this play

Talent evaluators (like myself) saw the ability to get feet down inbounds along the sideline. While in college, receivers only need one foot inbounds to make a catch, the pro’s need two feet. Claypool ensured he had two feet down to make this catch – a good habit to have now.

We saw the ability to make a tough catch. Yes, he beat McGee to the spot, but the safety didn’t make it an easy catch. Claypool is hauling this ball in up by his head, away from his body, all the while taking contact that is pushing him out of bounds while trying to keep his feet down. That’s concentration.

We saw the ability to separate. Positioning is part of separating. Because he got to the spot first, and out-bodied the defender for the catch, now we know that he can create physical separation (using his body as space to shield the defender) and make those catches.

These are all very impressive things.

What is left to prove?

Chase has a lot to prove in part of consistency and needs to produce this season. He’s doing a great job thus far, having 15 catches for 256 yards and 2 scores through the first three games of the season. The past couple of years, Claypool’s effectiveness and production was limited because of scheme (and wildly inconsistent quarterback play). Now that Ian Book has forced Brian Kelly to open the playbook a little bit more, Claypool has a chance to cash in with a huge season.

Chase Claypool clearly has the eye of the Reese’s Senior Bowl staff, which is a huge compliment seeing how well they’ve put the event together in the past couple of years under a new director, Jim Nagy. He has the physical tools. Now, young man, go out there and eat!

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