NFL Combine

Is Chase Claypool the ideal target for the Bears in Round 2?

Is Chase Claypool the ideal target for the Bears in Round 2?

Notre Dame wide receiver Chase Claypool's 2020 NFL Combine experience began with an expectation that he'd make a position change to tight end. It was a logical assumption considering his physical makeup; he weighed in at 6-4 and a rocked-up 238 pounds. Then came his elite workout, and the death of the tight end narrative.

Simply put, Claypool's test results were elite. In fact, he's the first wide receiver over 230 pounds to register a sub-4.5 40-yard dash since Calvin Johnson. That, alone, is rarified air. And it's reason enough for the Bears and GM Ryan Pace to give Claypool strong consideration in the second round.

Claypool's complete workout numbers were:

40-yard dash: 4.42
Vertical jump: 40.5 inches
Broad jump: 10.5 feet
Bench press: 19 reps (225 pounds)

Claypool isn't just a workout warrior, either. He was highly productive for Notre Dame in 2019, registering 66 catches for 1,037 yards and 13 touchdowns. 

Claypool would be the ultimate chess piece for Matt Nagy and the Bears offense. He'd be a true 'joker,' a term usually reserved for a pass-catching tight end. But in this scenario, Claypool could be virtually positionless. Just put him on the field and let him be a big and fast target for Mitch Trubisky (or whoever is under center). 

On film, Claypool doesn't always display the athleticism he flashed at Lucas Oil Stadium. His 4.42 was a surprise because his field-speed isn't on that level. In fact, the reason scouts were suggesting the position change is because he looks a little heavy-footed at times and there were concerns about his ability to separate from NFL defenders next fall. 

Those concerns aren't completely eliminated by Claypool's elite Combine showing. He's still not a sure thing when it comes to creating separation as a true boundary receiver. But that's what makes him such an appealing target for the Bears; he wouldn't have to be that guy in Chicago. He can be the Travis Kelce or Zach Ertz for the offense despite being listed as a wide receiver on the depth chart.

Here's the rub: The Bears can't wait too long to draft Claypool if he's their guy. If Pace doesn't pull the trigger on him with the No. 50 pick (their second of two second-round selections), he'll be playing elsewhere next fall.

If Chicago tabs Claypool as their guy, the instant knee-jerk reaction will be that Pace 'wasted' a second-round pick on a wide receiver, a position that isn't as much of a need as some others on this roster. But that's the beauty of Claypool; he isn't what he seems. He'd address the Bears' biggest need in the passing game while also possessing the massive upside to bring the offense to a more explosive level.



 

These 3 tight ends improved their stock at the 2020 NFL Combine

These 3 tight ends improved their stock at the 2020 NFL Combine

Bears general manager Ryan Pace said earlier this week that he is going to explore every avenue when it comes to upgrading the team's tight end group. The 2020 NFL Draft will be a great place to look for the pass-catcher Matt Nagy's offense needs and three prospects elevated their draft stock at the 2020 NFL Combine.

Stephen Sullivan, LSU

Sullivan, the wide receiver-turned-tight end, was one of the most impressive players at the 2020 Senior Bowl and he continued his rise up the draft board with a strong showing in Indianapolis.

Sullivan, who weighed in at 6-foot-5 and 248 pounds, ran a 4.66 40-yard dash, which tied for second-fastest among all tight ends. His 36.5-inch vertical jump is an elite number, too.

He was smooth in the on-field drills and showcased his effortless catching style. 

Sullivan won't be an early-round prospect. He'll probably slip into Day 3. And if he does, the Bears have to give him a long, hard look. He has a chance to be the biggest sleeper in the draft (regardless of position) who can become an impact playmaker in the NFL.

Brycen Hopkins, Purdue

Hopkins, like Sullivan, ran a 4.66 and looked every bit the part of a move tight end. He was smooth on downfield routes and caught the ball cleanly (for the most part). One concern surrounding Hopkins is his tendency to double-catch. He did a nice job quieting that worry.

Albert Okwuegbunam, Missouri

Albert 'O' was the big winner with his blazing 4.49 40-time, which ranks among the 10-best 40-times for a tight end since 1999, per the Mock Draftable database.

'O' is coming off a very disappointing season in which he totaled just 26 catches for 306 yards and six touchdowns. Though, it's worth noting that he lost his quarterback from 2018 -- Drew Lock -- and never got into an offensive rhythm in 2019.

It wasn't a perfect day for him, however. He loafed the gauntlet drill and continued the narrative that he doesn't give 100% effort on every down. But it's impossible to ignore his speed at 6-5, 258 pounds.

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Under Center Podcast: What are the Bears looking for at the NFL Combine?

Under Center Podcast: What are the Bears looking for at the NFL Combine?

Bears GM Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy spoke to the media live from the NFL Combine and talked as much as they could on solutions to the problems that plagued them this past season. Host Laurence Holmes is joined by NBCS Bears reporter JJ Stankevitz from the NFL Combine to discuss what the plans are for Mitch Trubisky and the quarterback position, and how the new CBA could affect what the Bears can do this offseason.

You can listen right here, or in the embedded player below. 

(1:30) - How were the Bears at the Combine
(4:53) - Ryan Pace on evaluating Matt Nagy
(8:28) - Matt Nagy talks about finding solutions to the Bears issues to the media
(15:30) - Ryan Pace continues to compare Mitch Trubisky to Drew Brees
(21:37) - Matt Nagy on what he needs Trubisky to get better at
(26:00) - Matt Nagy's coaching hires
(30:42) - Is Ryan Pace looking to replace Trubisky as the starter?
(34:20) - What are the Bears looking for in the draft?