We are on the cusp of the 2020 NFL Draft, and this will be an unusual year to say the least. Regardless of the manner of the draft, we are still expecting a handful of former Notre Dame Fighting Irish players to be drafted — and another handful to become UDFAs.
We’re going to take a quick look at both handfuls over the next whatever hours, as we get ready for the big weekend ahead.
Chris Finke- Wide Receiver
Finke has been a staple for the Irish over the last 4 years. He was a former walk on who earned a scholarship as well as a starting role. He is known by his nickname, “The Slippery Fox”, due to his elusiveness and overall craftiness (on and off the field). He is a huge personality and seems like he has been at ND for 10 years. He had a bit of a slow senior year, which was part due to injury and part to the emergence of Chase Claypool as the dominant number 1 receiver. Finke solidified his legacy during the 2018 College Football Playoff run, with a HUGE touchdown catch in the opener vs. Michigan, and practically taking over the final game vs. USC. I have a personal affinity for Finke, as he was the subject of my first OFD article back in April of 2017. Check it out to see the list of adjectives that will be used to describe him during his draft/camp evals.
How does he fit in the NFL?
The easiest (maybe too easy) comparison is current Oakland Raider and former Clemson WR Hunter Renfrow. They are the exact same size and had near identical stats in their final 2 years of college (accounting for Renfrow playing in more games)
They also had damn near same measurables during the combine. Renfrow was a bit slower (4.59 vs. 4.57) and less explosive (35 in vert vs. 40 in vert), so athletically, Finke appears to have the edge.
Despite those similarities, Finke does not have the same brand as Renfrow, who made some of the biggest catches in college football history. Finke made some huge plays during his time at ND, but Renfrow was the go to guy and was seen as more NFL ready. Renfrow had a very successful rookie year (49 catches, 600+ yards, 4tds) after being drafted in the 5th round.
Where will he go?
Finke was recovering from a Hamstring injury and did not fully participate in the NFL Combine. This and no pro day definitely hurt his potential to be a late round draft pick. I don’t think he hears his name called during the draft, but will be picked up shortly after with the hopes of making a team as a priority undrafted free agent.
PROJECTION: Priority UDFA
Did somebody say smaller white gritty possession receiver?
Finke is being quite undervalued as a slot receiver. I believe he is faster than his 40 shows and will be a standout in whatever camp he ends up in. He will be a fringe active roster player depending on his ability to contribute either in the return game or on other special team units. I think he spends the first portion of the year on the practice squad and the back half on an active roster. Being an UDFA will actually work in his favor, as he will have some say over where he ends up based on perceived best fit. The running joke is that he will end up on the New England Patriots, because he is a white gritty slot receiver, but that is neither here nor there.....but I wouldn’t hate it.
Now enjoy these highlights and GO IRISH!