Friday, 12 February 2010

Guest scouting report: Jimmy Clausen

By Ryan Langermann

Name: Jimmy Clausen
Position: Quarterback
School: Notre Dame
Weight: 220lbs

If he measures in at 6'2" or greater, then I am not turned off by his size. He is very durable and shakes off the big hits. Could use a little more bulk, but at this point I would say his body is ready to take on an NFL season.

Arm Strength
Average at worst in the NFL level. He has some good zip on his bubble screens and is able to throw it 50+ yards in the air with decent accuracy. Ball floats when he throws off his back foot and at times doesn’t get enough zip on posts, allowing the safety to make an adjustment.

Short to Intermediate - 69 / 82 completed = 84.15%. I adjusted these numbers to take out dropped balls and throwaways. His short to intermediate accuracy is very good. He gets the ball out very fast on bubble screens and has the zip to throw the ten yard out with consistency. In the games I scouted, the majority of his throws were about 8-10 yard outs. Tends to underthrow his receivers while scrambling to his right and throwing on the move. I have to say that if you put him on a team with inferior WR talent, teams would have played bump and run against his receivers and his favorite route would have been taken away. I am sort of disappointed in the games that I watched because he faced a pretty base defense for the most part (4-2 Nickle, with the nickel CB playing man on the slot receiver.) There were some blitzes from Carroll's elephant linemen and his OLB, but other than stunts, the blitz packages weren't too elaborate.

Deep passes
6/13 completed = 46.15%. Consistent throwing motion, but often times throws the ball too far along the sidelines and doesn’t give his receiver a chance to catch it on go routes. Several times he under threw his receiver when pressure was in his face. Lucky enough for Jimmy, his receivers are good enough to come back to catch the ball (Golden Tate has exceptionally strong hands.) When he has adequate time to set up and transfer his weight from his back to front foot, he most often hits his receiver in stride. When he is pressured, however, he throws off of his back foot and the ball sails and is often times under thrown.

At times guns it to his backs when it is unnecessary, leading to a few missed first downs. He wants to get the ball out of his hands in a hurry, but I didn't see a lot of touch in his swing routes and RB screens. They are accurate, but often times too hard. He didn’t throw too many posts and seam routes during the games I scouted, so I didn’t get to see his touch as much as I had hoped. I was expecting more seam routes to Rudolph (TE), but didn't catch any in the games I scouted.

Set Up
Consistent drop backs. 3 – 5 – 7- 9 steps all look good and are very consistent. Keeps eyes downfield while dropping. Always keeps his feet and hips lined up with his eyes while going through progressions, allowing him to start his throwing motion as quick as he makes his reads.

¾ delivery, but is very quick. When throwing deep ball, drops his throwing shoulder well and throws a consistent ball. Delivery slows down while throwing deep ball, but he throws a very catchable ball with good air underneath it when he intends to do so. I'm fine with his 3/4 delivery and only one of his passes was tipped at the line of scrimmage (although most of his throws were outside of the hashes.)

Has an extremely quick release on short to intermediate throws. This would be his biggest strength if he were to be drafted by a WCO team. I did notice that he takes a bit longer to throw bubble screens to his right and isn’t as accurate as he is throwing to his left on these routes.

Running ability
Doesn’t have plus speed as a quarterback, but is agile in the pocket and isn’t afraid to tuck the ball and go when there is nobody open. Recognizes where the first down marker is and is willing to dive for it. Shows a good slide when he has the first down.

Pocket Presence
Jimmy stands calmly in the pocket and doesn’t panic when pressure is coming at him. He has a good feel for pressure coming from his back side, but in a forth quarter vs. Stanford he held on to the ball too long and took a costly sack. He may try to do too much in the forth quarter, but he does know when to throw it out of bounds the majority of the time. His great mechanics tend to break down when a DT is running straight at him.

Very calm demeanor under pressure, but is fiery when he needs to be. He gets everyone lined up correctly and points out blitzers if he recognizes them pre-snap. Led several 4th quarter comebacks this year and never looked fazed. You could only tell he was hurt after the play, when he was limping. Very gutsy.

Decision Making
Very efficient passer that doesn’t often take risks. On a couple of plays (one in particular against Stanford, backed up on his five yard line) he has thrown the ball deep off of his back foot into multiple coverage and has been lucky not to have the ball picked off. He shows great awareness late in games in the routes he chooses to throw to. Knows where the sticks are. Very smart player and is willing to throw the ball away when he feels extreme pressure. He threw the ball away in his own endzone while outside of the tackle box, but he didn’t get the ball past the line of scrimmage. He was turned sideways, but this could be an indicator that without his good mechanics, his arm isn’t very strong.

Locating Receivers
Makes progressions quickly. He seems to lock onto certain routes more so than receivers, as I expected him to start out by looking for Golden Tate immediately. This could be a concern that he makes some decisions pre-snap, which I have heard some people complain about regarding him. He knows his hot routes and locates and diagnoses blitzes quickly. Often times he waits too long to throw a curl or out route. In the NFL he will need to get the ball out quicker on these types of routes. He rarely threw the ball before the receiver made his cut. To his defense, there was enough separation and none of the balls were batted down on curl routes, but he needs to decide quicker because in the NFL, the DB closes the gap much quicker.

Keeps calm while play clock is winding down. Makes sure everyone is lined up right. Leads his team by example and plays through injury. It is hard to get a feel for his leadership in only a handful of games, but from what I have heard he is a good leader.

Played with a turf toe for the majority of the year. He is a fiery competitor with the respect of his teammates. Shows willingness to take the big hit on quarterback sneaks. Keeps legs churning. There was one double reverse where Clausen was out in front of the runner and chose not to throw a block downfield, which was disappointing.

Fumbled snap on counter play. Brought body back too fast and never had a good hold on the ball. He can get anxious on quick handoffs, but for the most part his handoffs were clean and where they needed to be. Good pump fakes to set up screens to opposite side of field. VERY good at improvisation. Sets up screens very well. Sells play action well.

I think Clausen fits any system but his quick release would make him a good fit for a WCO. He makes decisions quickly. I didn't see him look off safeties, which was a concern. He only pump faked once and that was on a wheel route. His mechanics are very good and his delivery (while 3/4) is consistent and very quick. I wish I would have seen him throw more seam routes and tested the consistent cover-2's that the defenses were showing him. It is hard to project him to a Bates offense, but from what I have seen out of Bates, he projects well. I think he can make all of the throws, but he has a few mechanical issues with his deep ball and doesn't do a lot of the little things such as looking off safeties. He does sell play-action very well and has tremendous improvisation skills. He goes through his progressions and takes what the defense gives him. He doesn't create very much for himself unless a play breaks down and he finds away to avoid the rush.


Chris(Boise) said...

Very good breakdown I like what I hear. I've never been a fan of Clausen I used to hate the idea of drafting him which was further reinforced by Rob's stance on him but I have recently come to accept the possibility and actually kind of like it. The more I get over my own personal bias against him the more I see that with a year under Hasselbeck, Carrol, and Bates he could find a lot of success here.
Thanks again

am_driver said...

I think that Clausen has the potential to be a great qb once he gets some more practice and training. I wouldnt be mind if Seattle picked him at 6.


CLanterman said...

Great writeup!
When looking at the transition from college QB to pro QB here are a few things I look for:
1) Pro Style offense: Yes.
2) Accuracy: Yes.
3) Decision making: Yes.
4) Gun: No.
5) Quick Release: Yes.
6) Plays well when under pressure: Not sure, but he certainly had to learn his first two years when ND's o-line was terrible.

There are so many doubters on Clausen, and many of the doubters are scouts that I respect, but I just have a feeling that he's going to be a pretty good QB. Thanks for bringing up the quick release, that's something that doesn't get talked about enough. With a 3/4 arm slot, I think the quick release makes up for it, much like it does with Philip Rivers.

c-hawker said...

Very good write-up Rob.
While he has enough attributes one could make a strong argument for Clausen at the top of the first round.
I can't make up my mind on him.
Love him or hate him?
I like everyone else prefer Locker,who i think out-played Clausen in South Bend. Probably wont happen though. Hawks would have to have a terrible season(last in standings) to get him.
Better year for QB's next year though.

Swampfox said...

Ryan - great write up my man. Youre helping soothe my draft anxieties with so much positive to say about Clausen.

So do you think St Louis takes him at #1, Wash at #4, or Sea at #6?

Ryan Langermann said...

Thanks for the feedback everyone. I can see STL taking him, but as much good as I had to say about him, I don't think he's a #1 overall type of guy. I think it would be a mistake to take a QB over Suh or McCoy unless they were sold beyond a reasonable doubt that he was their future signal caller. I don't really see Washington taking him over Bradford unless his shoulder doesn't check out.

If I had to bet on it, I would say he gets picked at #6, but you never know with the draft.

Brian S said...

There are very, very few sure thing QB's available through the draft, and they always go with a top 5 pick. Unfortunately there won't be any in the draft for the foreseeable future. At some point we are going to have to roll the dice on a QB.

If he slides to us at #14 I don't see how the team could pass on him. I would rather take Morgan at #6, but Clausen isn't out of the conversation there either.

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