Notre Dame Junior
PROS: Has a strong arm with good zip, able to thread the needle. Has good accuracy and will anticipate on some throws. Has mobility to extend play outside the pocket and does a nice job throwing on the run. Does a nice job keeping his eyes downfield when he's scrambling. Shows some ability to slide in the pocket and shows a nice feel for pressure. Is a good decision maker and shows leadership potential. Does a nice job going through his progressions, will throw to the checkdown, and does a nice job seeing the field and making reads.
CONS: Will side-arm some throws, especially when he's improvising and outside the pocket. Doesn't always show great accuracy, not leading his receivers over the middle, and hits them in the numbers rare than throwing them open. Will occasionally force passes and make some mental mistakes, which tend to increase when he's pressured. At times gets antsy in the pocket and starts focusing on the rush. At times puts too much air under the ball, looking for receiver to make play rather than making a good, sharp pass.
OVERVIEW: There is really no major flaw in Clausen's game. The probelm is that there isn't a lot of wow either. What he looks like is a well-coached guy that works well in a pro-style offense, but doesn't have the great "it" to think he can blossom at the next level. Battled through turf toe injury throughout this past season, and caused him to be limited in some early off-season workouts. But with time, there doesn't appear to be much indication it won't be 100% by this summer. Got into some off-field issues at Notre Dame, including getting punched in the face at a bar. Showed improvement with each season, that by his last year he completed 68% of his passes and had a 28:4 TD-INT ratio. Started 34 career games, completing 62.6% in his career and had a 60:27 career TD-INT ratio.
NFL FORECAST: Clausen has a similar description as Brady Quinn when he came out, which is that he is well-coached and that he doesn't necessarily have the upside to get a lot better at the next level. They said the same about Aaron Rodgers as well, and many other Jeff Tedford-coached quarterbacks. And while he can definitely handle running an NFL offense as a rookie, I don't think he should because I'm not sure he responds well to adversity. And I'm not sure he has the great accuracy, throwing in the tighter windows at the next level to really be great there. Instead, I think the best for him is like Rodgers where he can sit for some time, get comfortable in a system and grow into his leadership potential. It's not that he's not a good quarterback, but I don't see a future for him of being an elite quarterback. With talent around him, he'll be a very productive starter. But if you're asking him to take a weaker supporting cast and make them better (like a franchise QB is supposed to do), I think he's going to fall short.
ATL FORECAST: Clausen would be trade bait in Atlanta because he's not as good as Ryan. but he would bea very good option for the Falcons as a backup since he can come in right away and beat out Wilson and Shockley, and even challenge Redman as a No. 2 guy as a rookie. Probably by his second or third season, he should have passed Redman as Ryan's primary backup, and then after that can be traded for picks.
VALUE: Clausen is good enough to sneak into the last few picks of the first round, but is ideally an early second round pick because he doesn't have great upside, just good.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
ARM STRENGTH: 4.0
DECISION MAKING: 3.5
POCKET AWARENESS: 4.0
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.