One of the highest ranked players, regardless of position, entering this year's NFL Draft is Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen. After a strong sophomore year, which was followed by an even better junior season, Clausen brings a lot to the table for intrigued NFL teams to evaluate, and he worked out April 9 for scouts.
- Comes from football stock, and the game is Clausen's life.
- Poised under pressure
- Extremely confident in his abilities
- Lightning quick release
- Accurate: a 68.0 percent passer in 2009; hits receivers well in stride
- Short- to intermediate-range velocity: Clausen throws a mean pass within 12-15 yards.
- Leadership: While not necessarily very vocal, he knows how to rally his teammates.
- Pocket awareness: No other area of his game has improved more throughout his collegiate career.
- Smart with the ball: four interceptions thrown in 425 attempts last year
- Quality build, size for the NFL: 6-foot-3, 222 pounds
- Throws well enough on the run
Is he a franchise QB?
- Intelligent: Speaking in terms of football smarts, Clausen is as bright as anyone.
- Worked in a pro-style offense
- Tough: played through injury in '09 and bounced back from elbow surgery before his stint at Notre Dame.
- Upside: Coming out as a junior means he certainly has room to grow as a player.
- Passes between 20-40 yards lack zip; throws longer than 40 tend to be late and flutter.
- Not very athletic: adds nothing in the way of running ability
- Footwork is questionable, which sometimes leads to floating.
- Three-quarter release may cause problems in the NFL for coaching staffs. Tinkering with established mechanics often set back the development of underclass passers on the next level.
- Doesn't follow through often on the little things: play-action fakes, finishing a fake rollout.
- Questionable personality: Even though he doesn't have a notable rap sheet, Clausen comes off as being coarse or abrasive at times. Immaturity is a big concern here.
- Recovering from offseason tendon surgery on his foot
Expected draft placement
An NFL-caliber arm strength, accuracy and intangibles should take Clausen far on draft day. How well he adapts to the NFL is anyone's guess, but we think he is more deserving of being a late first-round pick rather than the top-10 selection he'll probably wind up as. Expect Clausen to be drafted as early as the first overall pick (St. Louis Rams) and as late as the Buffalo Bills at No. 9. The Cleveland Browns (No. 7) may choose him, too. We don't expect a draft-day freefall, but stranger things have happened.
About Cory J. Bonini
Cory is KFFL's General Manager. In late 2002, he joined the KFFL staff as a research analyst and has been involved in fantasy sports since 1996. A member of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, as well as Fantasy Sports Writers Association, Bonini has been featured in print, on radio and on scores of websites. Bonini co-hosted Big Lead Sports on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio from 2011 to 2012.
Bonini was recognized with the 2010 Best Article in Print Award from the FSWA and was a finalist for the same award in 2011. In '11, he finished first overall in the FSWA NFL experts challenge that featured 60 of the industry's best competitors.
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