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INDIANAPOLIS — You know Chase Claypool had a spectacular NFL Scouting Combine when, athletically, the only other wide receiver as big as him to ever post speed and athleticism numbers like him was Megatron.
Yeah, that Megatron — former Detroit Lions great Calvin Johnson.
Claypool ought to be invigorated by his combine week, which ended Friday, even if the Abbotsford, B.C., native’s impressive showings in speed, power and athleticism drills Thursday night didn’t put to bed all that talk about him maybe needing to switch from wide receiver to tight end in the NFL.
Claypool entered this week graded as a third- or fourth-round pick, but might have nailed down a minimum third-round selection in the April 23-25 draft with what he did here.
The 6-foot-4-1/4 Claypool — who weighed in Monday at 238 pounds, about eight pounds above his typical playing weight owing, he said, to “super-hydrating” just prior to his arrival — became a standout wideout at the University of Notre Dame by last fall, his senior season. He led the Irish in catches, yards and TD grabs.
Claypool’s critics say because he typically struggles to gain separation from defensive backs, and also because he’s a feisty, physical competitor who loves to block on run plays and even lay the wood on special teams, he might be more likely to succeed in the pros as a tight end.
Several NFL teams officially requested of those who run the combine to have Claypool work out as a tight end, too. But he did not.
And why would he? Among the 55 wide receivers invited here, Claypool’s 40.5 inches in the vertical jump ranked fourth best; his 19 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press, fifth best; his 10 feet, five inches in the broad jump, tied for 10th best; and his blisteringly fast official time of 4.42 seconds in the 40-yard dash, seventh fastest.
Indeed, the only other receiver in combine history who has stood at least 6-foot-4 tall, weighed at least 235 pounds and who ran the 40 in less than 4.45 seconds was Megatron, who upon leaving Georgia Tech in 2007 — at 235 pounds — ripped off a 4.35 40.
“Can we stop the tight-end chatter?” Dane Brugler of TheAthletic.com, one of the top talent evaluators in the biz, wrote about Claypool on Friday.
“He was blazing on the track … also jumping well. He fought the ball a little bit in the gauntlet drill, but he tracked it well over his shoulder and had an above-average (positional) workout.
“With his unique skill set, the special-teams coach for the team that drafts him will be begging to make him a regular on coverages, taking advantage of his speed and toughness. Claypool was expected to test well and he didn’t disappoint, cementing his status as a Top 75 pick in this draft class.”
The 75th pick is the 11th pick of Round 3.
Anthony Treash of ProFootballFocus.com rated Claypool among his post-combine wideout risers, even if he was less praiseworthy than Brugler in summing up Claypool’s positive and negatives.
“NFL teams wanted Chase Claypol to work out as a tight end, and he might very well still be changing his position when taken in the draft in April,” Treash wrote. “If he does switch, he’d be arguably the most athletic tight end in the draft.
“His inability to separate and succeed in contested situations will make him an intriguing Darren Waller-type weapon on offence.”
At his news conference back on Tuesday, Claypool said time and again he was more intrigued, even amused, by the tight-end chatter, rather than annoyed.
It’s a positive, he said, not a negative. And that’s the right attitude to take.
“I really haven’t put a lot of thought into that because I’ve been a receiver this whole time. But it’s something that I think could add versatility to my game,” he said. “All buzz is good buzz. I had to smile at some of the things that were said. But I don’t think it was a bad thing that people see me doing different things at the next level. I take it as a compliment.
“I think I can be one of those rare guys who can line up at all positions on the field and do well, especially because I did that in my college career.”
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE
Ottawa born-and-raised defensive tackle Neville Gallimore, a standout captain at Oklahoma University the past few seasons, and graded as either a late first-round or early second-round draft selection, works out at Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday night with other D-linemen and linebackers.
NFL Network has live coverage from 4-11 p.m. EST. NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah continues to predict that the 6-foot-2, 304-pound Gallimore is going to blow people away with his on-field positional workout, his athleticism and his speed.
The combine concludes Sunday with cornerbacks and safeties working out on field, from 2-7 p.m. EST. Everybody’s top cornerback prospect, Jeff Okudah of Ohio State, told reporters Friday he’ll partake in everything.
HE RAN WHAT?
A generation ago there’d have been little chance we’d ever see an offensive-line prospect weigh 357 pounds and be so agile as University of Louisville tackle Mekhi Becton displayed Friday. He posted the fastest time in the 40 for any player at any position weighing at least 350 pounds, with an official time of 5.10 seconds. Becton measured in earlier this week at 6-foot-7 3/8 and 364 pounds. By Friday he was down to 357. He’s the heaviest of 338 prospects invited to the combine this year.
This interwebs lit up late Friday afternoon after Becton’s unofficial runs of 5.11 and 5.13 seconds.
Whoever drafts him should give him the ball on offence on occasion. Imagine any comparatively tiny cornerbacks trying to tackle THAT.
Tampa Bay QB Jameis Winston reportedly played through a torn knee meniscus, in addition to a broken thumb in 2019. The Bucs are deciding whether to re-sign him, tag him or let him walk away as a free agent by March 18 … The NFL announced that the Arizona Cardinals will be one of the teams playing in the Mexico City game this coming season, with opponent and date TBA … Arizona State’s Michael Turk isn’t your typical punter. A day after putting up 25 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press, on Friday he ripped off a 4.80-second 40 … New England WR Mohamed Sanu requires surgery on a bad high ankle sprain which, it was revealed Friday, really slowed him late last season.
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