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.