Notre Dame Football: Chase Claypool better as a TE or WR in the NFL?

After the release of Notre Dame’s Chase Claypool’s measurements at the NFL combine, rumors swirl he could move to tight end. Does that make the most sense?

Yesterday marked the beginning of the NFL Combine with the players who were invited to participate, including nine Notre Dame players, receiving their official measurements. This is typically a fairly mundane process with little to no noteworthy news coming from players receiving official height, weight, wingspan, arm length, and hand size measurements.

However, the measurements that Notre Dame standout wide receiver Chase Claypool recorded caught the attention of many draft experts, scouts and general managers around the National Football League. Claypool surprised many when it was revealed he has added ten pounds of muscle mass since appearing in the Senior Bowl last month.

As a result of his added bulk, many are beginning to question if the talented wide receiver is better suited to convert to the tight end position in the NFL. Some experts feel he represents a much more serious mismatch for defenses if he is moved to the tight end position.

Claypool’s official measurements were a height of just over 6’4″, a weight of 238-pounds, a hand size of 9 7/8″, an arm length of 32″, and a wingspan of 80″. Of the 55 wide receivers in attendance, the measurements make Claypool the third-tallest, who weighed the most, had the fifth-longest wingspan, seventh-largest hand size, and nineteenth-longest arms of any wide receiver at the combine.

Due to his massive measurements, many are questioning if Claypool would be better served transitioning to the tight end role. The determining factor as to what position the Irish football star will ultimately end up playing in the NFL will likely be his time in the 40-yard dash.

If he runs an average time in the event, he will likely be pegged to be a tight end in the league. However, if he impresses in the 40-yard dash and runs a time in the 4.4’s, he will likely be seen as more of a big-bodied wide receiver.

The current trend in the NFL is to find players with freakish athletic ability, who are extremely versatile and can play multiple positions. The versatility of these players allows their coordinators to expand their playbook and call plays tailored to the strengths of the players.

If Claypool is willing to accept the possibility of transitioning to the tight end position, it would likely serve to positively impact his draft stock, as he would increase the number of teams looking to draft him by doubling the number of positions he is valued at.

In essence, by showing a willingness to convert to tight end, Claypool positions himself to become the offensive version of Clemson’s versatile defensive standout Isaiah Simmons in this year’s NFL Draft. Simmons is highly coveted due to his ability to play linebacker, safety, cornerback and edge rusher on defense, depending on the play call.

The idea of NFL offensive coordinators utilizing Claypool as a hybrid tight end/wide receiver is likely tantalizing to many NFL teams. He represents a rare blend of size and speed that is very likely to create matchup nightmares in the league.

An easy comparison to draw to Claypool is Evan Engram of the New York Giants. Engram measured 6’3″ and 234-pounds, with 10″ hands, a 33 1/2″ arm length and 79.125″ wingspan at the 2017 NFL Combine. Claypool is taller, heavier and has a longer wingspan, despite having slightly smaller hands and shorter arms than Engram.

It will be interesting to see what time Claypool posts in the 40-yard dash, as Engram ran a 4.42 time in the event. The Notre Dame product isn’t expected to run that fast, but if he is close, it will almost certainly send his draft stock skyrocketing.

When Engram was participating in the combine, there were rumblings that he could perhaps convert from the tight end position that he played at Ole Miss to a wide receiver in the NFL, due to his size and speed. However, the Giants have kept him at the tight end position, where he has performed as one of the best in the league when he has been healthy.

As a result, it is easy to imagine Chase Claypool having similar success as Engram. If he can prove to be as durable as he was at wide receiver for Notre Dame, it is likely that he could surpass the early statistical output that Engram has had with the Giants through his first three seasons in the NFL.

Oddly, a number of mock drafts projected Claypool being selected by the New York Giants, as they appear to be a solid fit due to their need to find a legitimate red-zone target for quarterback Daniel Jones, heading into his sophomore campaign.

Chase Claypool was already viewed as a likely candidate to make a giant leap up the draft board similar to what his former Notre Dame teammate Miles Boykin did at the combine last year. A projection that was floated prior to the notion of Claypool becoming a potential tight end option.

Currently, Claypool’s Notre Dame teammate Cole Kmet is viewed by most as the top tight end option in the draft and a potential candidate to be selected in the first round. However, if Claypool impresses at the combine and is seen as a viable tight end option, he has the potential to leapfrog the uber-talented Kmet.

It will be worth monitoring how Claypool performs at his scheduled events at the combine. Once viewed as a solid depth piece and red zone target at wide receiver, likely to be available in the third or fourth rounds of the draft, Claypool could be positioning himself to crack the first round of the draft with a strong showing.

Regardless of what position Notre Dame’s Claypool is eventually relegated to in the National Football League, his rare blend of size, speed, skill, and athleticism should make him a player who is able to excel in the NFL.