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2020 NFL Draft

WR or TE? Notre Dame’s Chase Claypool Bridges the Gap



INDIANAPOLIS — Chase Claypool is a wide receiver.


Claypool certainly played wide receiver for the last four years at Notre Dame, where he amassed 2,159 yards and 19 touchdowns, including over 1,000 yards and 13 scores as a senior in 2019.

But it’s less clear if that’s what he’ll be in the NFL. Claypool measured in at the 2020 NFL Combine at 6-foot-4, 238 pounds. That’s not definitely tight end-sized, but it’s approaching tight end territory.

Georgia’s Charlie Woerner, who is definitely a tight end, measured in at 6-foot-5 and 244 pounds. Michigan’s Sean McKeon is 6-foot-5 and 242 pounds. Purdue tight end Brycen Hopkins is 6-foot-4 and weights 245 pounds. USF tight end Mitchell Wilcox is 6-foot-3 and 247 pounds.

So Claypool has tight end measurables, but his heart remains at the receiver position.

“I really haven’t put a lot of thought into [tight end], because I’ve been a receiver this whole time,” Claypool said on Tuesday. “But it’s something that I think could add versatility to my game. Right now I’m just focused on being the best receiver I can be.”

But at least one NFL team asked Claypool to work out with the tight ends during Thursday’s drills, so it’s something that NFL GM’s are considering, even if Claypool is not.

If he wants to stay a receiver, he has an opportunity: show them that his size is not a hindrance from running a quick time.

“I think that’s exactly it,” Claypool said. “Because of the weight, they assume maybe it’s bad weight. I have a good opportunity to prove that it’s not with the 40 and I think after this week, people will understand that I have a special combination of size and speed. … My goal is a sub-4.5.”

**Claypool ran a 4.45

The heaviest starting NFL wide receiver in 2019 was Mike Evans at 231 pounds. Claypool would be even larger and is an inch shorter than the Tampa Bay star.

The kind of team that might be interested in Claypool is one that has needs at both positions, and the Pittsburgh Steelers certainly do. They’re likely going to draft a potential fourth wide receiver to pair with JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson and James Washington.

They also have a totally unsettled tight end position. With Vance McDonald’s contract option up in the air and Nick Vannett set to become a free agent, only Zach Gentry, who was used infrequently as a rookie out of Michigan in 2019, is sure to be on the roster in 2020.

The fact that it’s a deep wide receiver class could push Claypool down the draft board, as well, with equally talented players with more traditional builds available. He’s likely to go someplace between the second and fourth rounds, where the Steelers will make their first three selections.

He’s been steadily rising in that projection after a strong showing in the senior bowl, and a good time on Thursday night could continue that.

“The more I come out to these events that are televised and have scouts, the more people will understand that I shouldn’t be as slept on as I am,” Claypool said.

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