Why Jimmy Clausen won't be a 49er

Fooch's Note: We've had quite the upswing in Jimmy Clausen posts over the last week. I thought this post written up by Andrew was a good way to sort of put a bow on things. So, going forward, any new Clausen-related FanPosts will be moved into either this post, or one of the existing Clausen FanPosts. I'll let you know where I've moved it.

If you've done any mock draft watching over the past few weeks, you'll notice the Jimmy Clausen to the 49ers bandwagon is picking up quite a bit of steam. If you'll recall, the same thing happened last year with Mark Sanchez, current quarterback of the New York Jets. A few weeks prior to the draft, momentum began to build on the Sanchez to San Francisco hype machine. Is this year's Jimmy Clausen saga any different? In other words, does Jimmy Clausen really stand a chance at falling out of the top 10? Let's first take a look at the variable factors that will prevent Clausen from becoming a 49er.

1. That team in Buffalo - The Bills are way behind in the AFC East, way, way behind. The Jets made moves to "stack" the roster, the Dolphins dumped money into a few free agents and New England has three second round draft selections. At some point or another, desperation has to set in. Buffalo is without paddle right now, and while the team has several needs to address, Jimmy Clausen might be the best place to start. After all, you can't really build a team around a franchise player, if you don't have a franchise player. The Bills have their RT figured out, and with the 9th selection in round 2, could figure out their LT situation after landing a franchise QB the team has lacked since Drew Bledsoe (in the twilight of his career no less).

2. The Big Show - Mike Holmgren, the master of the universe in Cleveland's football operations, has already gone on record saying he wished he liked Clausen more. While the relatively straight shooting Holmgren has been just that so far, there's a chance this could be a smoke screen. The signs point to what Holmgren's says being true: The Browns signed Jake Delhomme and acquired Seneca Wallace, and parted ways with Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn, Medicine Woman. Delhomme could the one year stop gap, and Wallace a wild-cat package QB to pair with the dangerous Josh Cribbs. Either way, the popular opinion is that Delhomme isn't much of a starter anymore, and Wallace never was.

3. Kansas City - Now, I'm not saying that the Chiefs are taking Clausen, I'm saying they have the most tradable pick in the top 5 (at number 5). The cost to acquire the fifth overall selection is much less than the 3rd overall selection, and the financial obligations aren't as crippling either. Sure, the fourth pick isn't much different, but the Redskins just got a franchise QB of their own, and most certainly have to address the LT position. Kansas City, on the other hand, is rumored to be shy from selecting Eric Berry at the five spot and might not be sold on any of the remaining prospect being worth top 5 cash. Also, Mark Sanchez was drafted at this spot in 2009, when the Jets swooped in to snipe the USC signal caller.

4. The Roethlisberger Effect - I'll save the ordeal and just keep this brief, simply noting it as a possibility. As seen here on NN, The Steelers are seeking trade suitors in the top 10 of the NFL Draft. If they find a partner, Clausen and the Steelers would be a match.


After the jump, roll with me to see why Jimmy Clausen is a top 10 QB...

There's been some [site decorum] rumors swirling that Jimmy Clausen doesn't have the arm strength to be an NFL QB. The kid has an arm, and while it may not be a Favre-esque cannon, it will get it done. Another popular opinion is that Clausen had great WRs to work with at Notre Dame, and that disguised his mediocrity. Let's not go overboard, the Golden Domes had a good corps in 2009, but Clausen completed 68% of his passes, with a 28:4 TD:INT ratio. With the same receiving corps a year prior, Clausen's numbers weren't nearly as impressive (in other words, he made progress). Let's also not forget that Notre Dame ran a pro-style west coast offense, and Clausen took a bulk of his snaps from under center.

From a technical standpoint, Clausen is sound. He may need to improve his footwork, but his ability to take what the opponents give him is something NFL scouts love. The improvement Clausen showed from 2008 to 2009 was significant. He stopped forcing balls into coverage, and started seeing the entire field. While Golden Tate wasn't a hard target to miss (93 catches, 15 TDs), five other players had 20 or more receptions. Clausen played in all 12 games for the Irish, and Tate was his only offensive weapon to do the same. Add the fact that Notre Dame's rush attack was relatively pedestrian, and Clausen's 300 passing yards per game (again, in a pro style offense) stands out.

Let me bullet out a list to make Clausen's case for the top 10:

  • Versed in an NFL offense
  • Makes his reads and takes what the defense gives him
  • Plays tough (didn't miss a game in 2009 despite a nagging turf toe injury)
  • Technically sound (took most of his snaps from under center)
  • Accurate and efficient (28 TDs, 4 INTs, 68% comp.)
  • Can build chemistry and timing with receiving unit

Now, I'm no Drew K in the area of college football knowledge/scouting, but I do know Jimmy Clausen is a top 10 QB. Would I be surprised if he fell out of the top 10? No, it's happened to QBs before. Would I be upset if the 49ers took Jimmy Clausen with the 13th (or 17th) selection? To answer yes would be putting a lot of faith in Alex Smith as the long term answer beyond 2010. Clausen wouldn't have to come in and start right away, and if the 49ers have a junk season, the top 10 draft selection (in '11) could be well spent in another area of need. If Alex Smith leads the 49ers to a successful campaign, well, having two solid QBs is never a bad dilemma.

To close things out, Jimmy Clausen's Pro Day:

 

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