Notre Dame NFL Draft Fits: Claypool and the Giants

Notre Dame football stud wideout Chase Claypool should be a high priority for the New York Giants when the NFL Draft kicks off this April.

This is always the toughest time of the year for college football fans. We’re now going on a little over a month since the season ended, and for most fan-bases, it’s been even longer since we watched them play. The Senior Bowl is over, National Signing Day has passed…right now all we have are NFL Draft arguments and off-season conditioning and weight-room hype videos to give us our college football fix.

When it comes to the Fighting Irish, there’s been a lot of buzz surrounding the team since capping off an 11-win season with a 33-9 bashing of Iowa State in the Camping World Bowl.

Notre Dame is losing a handful of talent that helped them reach that 11-win mark (and 10+ wins the previous three years), including defensive ends Khalid Kareem and Julian Okwara, defensive backs Alohi Gilman and Troy Pride, Jr., and tight end Cole Kmet.

But perhaps the biggest loss heading into 2020 will be wide receiver, Chase Claypool.

After the departure of Miles Boykin following the 2018 season, a lot of pressure was put on the shoulders of the British Columbia native Claypool, who had shown flashes of talent but has yet to really jump off the page as an impact player.

The 2020 season more than erased any doubts about Claypool, who went on to register 66 receptions for 1,037 yards and 13 touchdowns – all career bests.

Outside of the fact that his dominant play was reflected on the stat sheet, week-in and week-out Claypool was the home-run hitter, safety net, and go-to guy for an offense that had a multitude of obstacles and struggles throughout the season.

Despite the injuries and inconsistencies at quarterback, Claypool went out and dominated each week, easily earning the title of the team’s MVP of the 2019 season and becoming a long time fan favorite.

So, with all that said and with the NFL Draft approaching, why does Claypool make sense for the New York Giants?

The New York Giants are in a weird place as a franchise at the moment. Three straight years with a top-five draft pick has resulted in a core group of young players with unlimited potential, but gaping holes in the roster coupled with front office mismanagement have created the mess they are in now – going 12-36 since their 11-5 campaign in 2016.

For starters, the G-Men and their receiving corps have been wildly inconsistent in recent years. After moving on from superstar Odell Beckham Jr., the Giants were left with a committee that included an aging Golden Tate (Go Irish), electric yet often injured Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram, and glorified practice squad guys like Bennie Fowler and Cody Latimer.

The one bright spot was rookie Darius Slayton, who was a steal in the 5th round and finished the season with 48 receptions, 740 yards, and 8 touchdowns.

Outside of Slayton, who is more of a speedy home run hitter type of receiver, the Giants are left with very few big-body, physical receiving options on the outside. It is an area the franchise has had little-to-no playmakers at since the Hakeem Nicks days almost a decade ago.

Standing at 6-4, 230 pounds, Claypool checks the box of a big-bodied receiver and his play backs that up. He can win one-on-one matchups on the outside, come down with tough catches, and be a mismatch for secondaries that already have to worry about the speed and versatility of Slayton, Saquon Barkley, Shepard, and Engram.

Oh, and he isn’t afraid to chip the paint on his (or his opponent’s) helmet either.

Next, take into account who the New York Giants have behind center. Despite a lot of criticism for selecting Daniel Jones with the No. 6 overall pick last year, it seems so far that the G-Men are getting the last laugh, as Jones racked up 3,027 yards and 24 touchdowns through the air in 2019 to go along with a 62% completion percentage.

With the limited resources Jones had and the below-average offensive line, those numbers aren’t bad at all. While his arm strength was considered a knock on him coming out of Duke, he proved last year he had an NFL-caliber arm, and oftentimes looked his best when taking medium and long-range shots downfield.

As he progresses and improves this off-season, it’s hard to imagine Jones not growing more comfortable with the playbook, and adding a threat like Claypool gives him and the Giants offense a guy that can win the jump ball downfield instead of banking on the unlikely scenario their speedy receivers can turn 5-yard slants into 60-yard touchdowns.

Finally, Claypool not only checks the boxes of what Daniel Jones and the offense needs, but he checks the box of what newly-hired head coach Joe Judge wants.

In his opening press conference and a few other times since, Judge has stated that he fully intends to develop a team that embodies the city and fans it represents – one with a blue-collar, hard-working, physical mentality that will punch opponents in the mouth for 60 minutes.

That’s who Claypool is. He’s not overly flashy, and coming out of Notre Dame he might not have the most developed route tree, but he is a guy with unreal potential and ability that will try to dominate whoever lines up against him from day one of camp.

It is hard for me to imagine Joe Judge not turning on Claypool’s film and completely falling in love with it. And if Judge loved his film there’s no telling how much he probably enjoyed watching him in person at the Senior Bowl, where Claypool turned a lot of heads with his performance throughout the week.

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The tricky part about this seemingly perfect relationship is the fact that the New York Giants have a number of very pressing needs to address in the first two rounds of the draft and traded their early third-round pick away for Leonard Williams, leaving them with only have a late third-round compensatory pick they received when Landon Collins signed with the Redskins in the offseason.

It does help that this year’s wide receiver class is extremely deep, but that doesn’t guarantee Claypool will fall to the late third round or early fourth round, which after his Pro Day and NFL Combine I do not see happening.

With the multitude of offensive line and defensive needs that have to be addressed by the Giants in this year’s draft, it seems unlikely they will take a luxury pick on a wide receiver in the second round. Unless they trade down in round one to get additional assets or trade-up for an earlier pick in the third round, this match might only be made on paper.

Regardless, at the end of the day, Chase Claypool is going to make whatever franchise that takes him happy. Whether that be in the Meadowlands of New Jersey or in San Francisco. There are a handful of reasons why Claypool to the G-Men makes sense, and we will have to wait until April to see if that connection comes to life.

Until then, more off-season hype videos!