Friday, 23 April 2010

What we said... Jimmy Clausen

Jimmy Clausen is still on the board at the start of round two. Initial thoughts? The Rams own a figurative 'golden egg' right now, with every team in the NFL knowing they can guarantee a big name, big talent at a very reasonable cost by trading for the Rams pick. Dunlap, Mays, Griffen, Kindle, Brown and Clausen - take your pick. The importance of the quarterback position and Clausen's availability in particular could mean a big move to start round two. The worst case scenario for St. Louis will be having to use the pick on the plethora of quality still on the board.

However, it's no surprise to me that Clausen faces this situation. When I watched Clausen, my review wasn't great. On November 16th last year, I severely criticised Clausen's physical and technical qualities:

"Now, it's easy to see why Clausen has put up nice numbers this year. He doesn't make a lot of bad decisions in the short game that lead to interceptions. A lot of his passes are high percentage outside slants and we have to remember that he's throwing to two of the better receivers in college football - Michael Floyd and Golden Tate. But I saw no evidence of a guy who can come into the NFL and put up big numbers quickly. He can't keep throwing the same outside slant every week to the same guys, occasionally floating passes downfield hoping something comes off. He'll be an interception machine throwing downfield like that." - 11/16/09

When I began to project mock drafts, I left Clausen out of round one:

"What about Jimmy Clausen? When I've scouted the Notre Dame quarterback this year, I've not been impressed. He has mechanical issues with a low, side arm throwing motion which often leads to deflected passes. Clausen loses all velocity throwing off his back foot - which can be often. The vast majority of his passes are high percentage outside slants to two of the most productive receivers in college football - he hasn't shown an ability to make a deep range of NFL throws. I think this will be enough to put teams off at the top of the board and he could suffer a substantial fall." - 12/9/09

Whilst other more high profile draft commentators projected a fall due to Clausen's off-field character, I never really took that into much account. For me, the Notre Dame quarterback just didn't have enough to his game physically or technically to warrant a high pick. The evidence from yesterday is - teams in need of a quarterback felt the same way. Although some teams (and I include Seattle in this) seemingly left Clausen out of consideration for unspecified red flags, I'm also not sure anyone felt convinced that this guy would come into the NFL and succeed.

The importance of the position and severe need for quarterbacks (including in Seattle) motivated many (myself included) to perhaps push Clausen into consideration. In hindsight, we should've trusted our initial judgements. Todd McShay had a well publicised battle with Mel Kiper on Clausen, with McShay touting a fall for the quarterback. By the draft, both McShay and myself had Clausen in round one. Here's what I wrote on January 13th:

"We know new regimes often mean new quarterbacks. It's entirely plausible that Pete Carroll and his staff will seriously consider drafting a rookie quarterback for the future. Matt Hasselbeck is approaching the final of year of his contract - he'll be 35 by the time the 2010 season is over. As former GM Tim Ruskell admitted last year (before passing on Mark Sanchez), the Seahawks are "in the zone" with regard to finding a long term answer at the position. If indeed Carrol was enamoured by Clausen's skills in high school he may wish to create a working relationship in the NFL." - 1/13/10

Yet, in the same article, I added:

"Amongst my previous concerns with Clausen has been his lack of range in the passing game. Against Stanford, he registered thirty pass attempts. Of these, thirteen were short slants to the left or right to one of Michael Floyd or Golden Tate. Two were shovel passes and two were check down's through the middle. Clausen threw five screen passes. The remaining eight attempts were a combination of a failed hail mary to end the game, three deep corner routes, a pass thrown away, an end around trick, a fade left and a 20 yard attempt down the middle.

"I've noticed that a lot of throws made by Clausen are outside slants to Floyd or Tate. Nearly 50% of his passes were this high percentage outside slant, quickly thrown off the snap to one of the talented receivers in a lot of space. 73% of his throws were ten yards or shorter. The stats for the year are very good, but when you're throwing a lot of high percentage throws for short yardage in a quick hitting offense - it's no surprise. You're going to complete passes, you're not going to throw interceptions.

But of more concern is that Clausen will become predictable and easy to gameplan if he can't make 'all the throws'. A top ten quarterback needs to be able to get the ball downfield as well as show great short range accuracy." - 1/13/10

In the end, I wasn't surprised that Clausen dropped as far as he has. It might be to do with character concerns, it could be something not known to any of us. However, I have to believe that Clausen's overall game is one of the main reasons why he starts round two without a home.


Anonymous said...

Great insight Rob! I've never been high on Clausen either...

I am really getting tired of local sports talk people saying that the Whitehurst trade was horrible given what we gave up for him. I look at it this way - would people have been happy to take Clausen at #40 this year? He has LESS experience than Whitehurst in the pros and has thrown exactly the same amount of passes as CW, yet sports talk people would be very excited at the prospect of Clausen in the second round. The way I see it, which is how you see it, we took a potential starting QB with the 3rd round pick in 2011. If it works...kudos to PC and JS, if not, we have a backup QB in CW, and we can still get an impact player at #60 this year.

Besides, SD reached pretty far to get Matthews at #12 IMO, so it's a wash with how they got there.

Amazing blog! Thank you for your daily commitment!

Anonymous said...

why rehash only the good things you (pertaining to players). you hated okung too and thought he would maybe out of 1st. i would take clausen over bradford. in the end, clausen will be a better nfl qb.

Rob Staton said...

In fairness, Annonymous, this is one piece on a major talking point. Clausen falling out of the first is the big story aside from Tebow-Denver.

Personally, I and Kyle both graded Okung in the mid-late first round. We were critical, but I never had him lower than #23 in my mock drafts and for the most part, he was in the top ten. Kyle had him at #9. We never suggested he wouldn't be a first round pick.

I was wrong about a lot on draft day and we'll go through it more in depth when the draft is complete. I though Graham would be a late first rounder, he went incredibly high. I had Ryan Mathews as a 2nd/3rd until my final mock - he went #12. I can run through a list of a few guys I expected to give first round grades who are still on the board.

But we also got a lot right too. We never moved from Detroit taking a defensive tackle. We had Bulaga and Clausen dropping. We nailed Seattle's desire to find a OT and S. Like most blogs, we got some right and some wrong.

Anonymous said...

At least Okung was still rated in the middle of the 1st round by SDB. Clausen was mostly rated outside of the 1st round based on skillset and I agree. It's absolutely ludicrous to compare Clausen and Mark Sanchez's tape and suggest that they are anywhere close.

As for Clausen vs. Bradford, I'm actually leaning toward Bradford because he has the best traits of a good modern QB- cerebal smarts, top notch accuracy, good decisions, quick release. Clausen is not even close in those regard.


Anonymous said...

OK...enough with Clausen issue.

Any thoughts on what will happen today Rob?

Scott said...

REALLY interesting tidbit here:

According to Yahoo's Charles Robinson, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll "really likes" Marshawn Lynch.

Robinson has been on the Lynch trade trail for months, so we'd tend to trust him here. Robinson even isn't ruling out the Seahawks sending the No. 60 overall pick to Buffalo for Lynch, with the Bills apparently still holding out for a second-rounder. That seems like quite a bit to pay a player who's fallen off so dramatically of late, but Lynch would definitely be an upgrade.


I know this has been mentioned and talked about here before, but we might see the Hawks make a jump here with a 4th or 5th rounder for Lynch. Just a hunch. I don't see them trading their 2nd AT ALL for a guy that became expendable and may even be cut by Buffalo once they drafted Spiller.

Ralphy said...

Who are you hoping to be there for the Hawks at #60 if they don't trade? Kiper has Carlos Dunlap falling to them. WOuld you like that? I know he has a lot of talent but not much desire. Thoughts? Who else? WR, DE, DT?

Will said...

So, I've been curious about how you felt about Clausen pre-draft. I haven't been able to find anything on this issue.

Anonymous said...

I'm hoping for Price in some way (move up to 45) or beg that he slips past Giants. If he gets past the Giants, I guess I wouldn't mind the Texans taking him at 51. If Price gets past the Texans, the Hawks got them a 1st round talent in most other years.

I just love Price for his quickness off the snap and penetration as a 3 tech that rivals Suh and McCoy. I would be worried if we didnt' have someone to draw the double team (Mebane), but we clearly do.


Steve in Spain said...

Great job on the coverage of Clausen, Rob. I really appreciate your views and insights. It'll be real interesting how long the free-fall continues. And we won't know for sure for several years about where and when he should've been drafted.

Honestly, though, I'm more shocked at how far Sergio Kindle has fallen. How on earth did he drop out of the first?

This draft is just so ridiculously stacked. I wish we had a stockpile of second rounders. :(

Anonymous said...

Trading for Lynch at 60 would totally ruin what we have done in the 1st round. At 60, we go one of the following:

price/houston/griffen/ghee/cox/j. ford/b. tate

E in F

Anonymous said...

I think the 2nd round (even at 60) is deep enough that we could have an immediate, above average starter. In some years, the 1st round player coming in isn't even a starter. Plus, 2nd rounds are payed less. No way I would give it up.


Anonymous said...

No one can predict even the first ten draft picks. Intelligent and entertaining commentary is what matters and this site has that in abundance. Good job Rob, Kyle, Kip.

Ps my take on Clausen last January was that he had Rick Meir's name stencled on his jock. So there.

Rob Staton said...

Scott - I look at the Lynch talk two ways. For starters, I absolutely can believe Carroll being high on Lynch. At the same time, that makes it an easy link. The Bills have zero bargaining power because Lynch is bad news and they just spent the 9th overall pick on a running back. I don't think we'll see a trade today unless it involves, maybe, the swapping of #60 for the Bills third rounder and Lynch landing here. His value must be incredibly low right now. I could see Lynch in Seattle, though. One to monitor.

Rob Staton said...

Ralphy - there's a ton of names to get excited about in round two. Dunlap is a risk/reward type, but so was Calais Campbell and Dunlap is better. Taylor Mays at some point in round two becomes very good value. Same goes for Everson Griffen and everyone knows how much of a fan I am of Charles Brown. I like Ben Tate a lot too and there's some decent receiver talent on offer. Better than normal value in round two - could be more pro-bowlers amongst the R2 picks than the first rounders.

Rob Staton said...

And just to emphasise the value - I completely forgot about guys like Houston/Price/Atkins on the defensive interior and a CB like Brandon Ghee. What a great second round this could be.

JohnnyB said...

Will, the article you are commenting on has Staton's opinion about Clausen pre-draft. You can find more of it here:

Now if Rob would have just stuck with what he knew about Clausen instead of falling for some Carroll loves Clausen rumor, he'd really look like a genius right now!


Bundle our 60th pick move-up in the draft and get DT Brian Price!

Anonymous said...

I have this feeling that the Hawks will be trading Hasselbeck today.

Scott said...

Rob, I in NO WAY think the Hawks trade their 2nd in any fashion for a deal involving Lynch. With Lynch's value being so low I'd be more inclined to see one of our 4th's being traded for Lynch and a 5th or something in that capacity. I do think he could answer a small question for us without having to use one of our draft picks on a RB and that is somewhat why I would have interest in seeing it happen. I'm not particularly a fan of his, but he certainly can be productive.

I would much rather see a WR picked or some weapon on offense.

Anonymous said...

With Kindle and Clausen dropping out of the first, how sweet it would be to have a secound round pick at say.... 40 to trade out of and pick up additional 2nd and 3rd round picks.... oh wait..... I may be wrong but the CW trade really hurts us with the rebuilding process. Now if Hass has back issues and CW comes in and lights it up I will be proven wrong. I really feel that with the talent in the secound and third rounds we should have worked harded to build depth through the draft. Can't wait to see what happens next. Great Work on the blog guys, you have made the off season entertaining. Hats off to all of you.