Scouting Reports and Pre-Draft Crushes: Jimmy Clausen

Editor’s Note: This is our first guest post on RamsHerd, by intrepid reader @Ottoman89. I hope you enjoy, and hope this is not the last of these guest posts to come.

Looking at the 2010 NFL Draft, we Rams fans are at odds over who the Rams will take. Currently the “rumor” is Sam Bradford, a Heisman winning Quarterback from the University of Oklahoma. The media grabbed onto his name, and ran with it. Every sports writer is claiming “my sources close the Rams are saying Sam Bradford IF healthy.” The rumor had also been it was a no-brainer that the Rams were going to draft Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh from the University of Nebraska, as well as Gerald McCoy from the University of Oklahoma, teammate of QB Sam Bradford. Whether it be one of those three or highly rated Quarterback Jimmy Clausen from Notre Dame, the common theme is the Rams need to obviously get better, and take the player that will improve them the most now and for the future, not necessarily the best player available.

The articles and media members have been focusing on Bradford, McCoy and Suh so much that they are forgetting about Clausen. Granted, he isn’t the most popular pick at this time, and he is hardly mentioned, but could it be a smoke screen?

Reports around the league are that the Redskins and Browns want Sam Bradford, as well as a few other Top 10 teams, and are willing to move up. But is it not smart of the Rams to leak smokescreens about the highly-touted and highly-wanted players so other teams are more likely to trade up? The Rams could move down, grab some extra picks and greatly improve the roster, rather than stand pat and slowly improve. Let’s be honest, Billy Devaney and Steve Spagnuolo have to have improvement next season to grab the trust and confidence of potential new owner Shahid Kahn.

Could the Rams’ top target actually be QB Jimmy Clausen? I think he’s a perfect fit. Here’s why!

QB – Jimmy Clausen (University of Notre Dame)
Christian Petersen / Getty Images


The Hype

Jimmy Clausen was a 3 year starter at Notre Dame under offensive guru Charlie Weis, who runs a similar Pro-Style West Coast Offense scheme to St. Louis Rams offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur. Weis has helped groom superstar QB Tom Brady from New England, and has often powered some of the most impressive offenses in the NFL, and NCAA. His last year (Junior season) at Notre Dame, Clausen threw for a very impressive 28 TDs, and only 4 INTs. All of that done with a bad offensive line, no running game and good wide receivers. He possesses absolutely incredible accuracy, good arm strength, toughness and much needed leadership. Clausen also played at Notre Dame, where as a Quarterback, you’re under the most scrutiny, and he dealt with that very well.

Here’s a brief report on Clausen by highly respected Matt McGuire from WalterFootball.com

    Strengths:

  • Solid size and adequate bulk
  • Very good arm strength; can fit balls into tight windows
  • Extremely quick, snappy release
  • Great accuracy
  • Nice hip torque on throws
  • Gets rid of ball quickly
  • Very decisive with the football
  • Takes what defense gives him; doesn’t force ball/will throw away
  • Elite football IQ
  • Great touch
  • Well versed in NFL offense
  • Good sense of timing
  • Will step up/out of pocket
  • Knows how to read coverage
  • Sees the entire field; great vision
  • Very polished for a true junior
  • Shown outstanding development from freshman to junior season
  • Extremely intelligent
  • Ice in his veins; great poise
  • Mentally tough; plays through pain
  • Big leader
  • Confident
  • Film room rat
  • Elite intangibles
  • Good genetics and very well coached
  • Spent 3.5 years in a West Coast offense

– WaterFootball.com: “Jimmy Clausen Scouting Report

Here’s another take from Scott Wright of NFLDraftCountdown.com

Strengths:
Good height and bulk — Arm strength is more than adequate and can make all of the necessary throws — Great throwing mechanics with a quick delivery — Super accurate passer with terrific touch, timing and anticipation — Very smart with an excellent football IQ — Knows how to operate under center, recognize blitzes, read coverages and go through progressions — Takes care of the ball — Able to buy time in the pocket with his feet — Can throw on the run — Tough and will play through pain and injuries — Is confident with a fiery field presence and ice water in his veins — Hard worker — Media savvy and has proven that he can handle the spotlight — Experienced — Superb bloodlines.

– Draftcountdown.com: “Jimmy Clausen Scouting Report

Strategic Fit

The Rams are working on a ball controlled, West Coast Offense. An offense with short – medium routes and the ability to do a bit of play-action. Jimmy Clausen came from an almost exactly similar offense at Notre Dame. As I mentioned above, he had 28 TDs and only 4 INTs, he also possessed a very nice 68% completion percentage and an 8.76 YPA. The Rams run a lot of out routes, and 5 yard curls, patterns that Clausen is good at. He’s got a good arm and can zip passes from 20-25 yards as well.

The Rams also like a QB who can do play-action and move around in the pocket. Clausen is very composed, has a very good pocket presence, can move around in the pocket, and move out of the pocket and make a throw on the run. The Rams have an All-Pro running back in Steven Jackson, and some good young receivers who have a ton of potential. Having a rookie QB come in and work with them, with the ability to grow for the future would help ensure that we have a bright future. Jimmy Clausen could be the Rams’ future.

The 2009 Rams on offense scored just over 10 PPG. The 2009 Rams also had the ball on the final possession of the game with the chance to win or tie on 7 occasions. It’d also help our defense quite a bit having an Offense with the ability to move the ball. No more stalled drives and tired defense in the 4th Quarter.

Player comparison (by New Era Scouting): Drew Brees

Argument against

He has been known to be “cocky” and “immature” and perhaps lacking in leadership, but how true is this statement? Is it more to do with the hate of Notre Dame, or is it a legitimate concern? Also, he’s not a “winner” and hasn’t been to the big dance, but again, how much does that have to do with the lack of talent around him and the #86th ranked Notre Dame defense? All in all, the knocks against Clausen aren’t near as great as those against media favorite Sam Bradford.

Editor’s Note: This comment from Walter Football’s Mock Draft elaborates on this point well:

“This reminds of the 2005 NFL Draft when the 49ers opted for a weak-armed spread quarterback (Alex Smith) over a pro-style, strong-armed quarterback (Aaron Rodgers). Now, I’m not saying Bradford is the next Alex Smith. I think Bradford will have a good career in the pros, and he’s a fine option for the Rams. But Clausen is clearly the better (and healthier) prospect.”

And like I said, I sort of sense a large smokescreen around Bradford, McCoy and Suh. Clausen may be the favorite for the Rams. He sure does fit in pretty well.

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