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Jimmy Clausen’s Fortunate Draft-Day Fall

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Jimmy Clausen did not want to drop all the way to the second round of the NFL draft. He likely didn't expect that he would even fall out of the top 10. And he definitely never dreamed that any team would take Tim Tebow before him.

But that's exactly what happened as the former Notre Dame star waited until the 48th pick overall in the second round of the NFL Draft to find out that he would reside in Charlotte at least for the next few years with the Carolina Panthers. And while Jimmy undoubtedly lost out on quite a bit of money on the front end of the deal, his second-round slide may have been the best thing that has ever happened to his career. Even if his ego won't allow him to see that right now.

One of the most notable and unavoidable outcomes of the NFL Draft is that, in most cases, the best quarterbacks go to the worst teams. And while one would see this as fair from an organizational standpoint. it is a tough proposition for the quarterback drafted. Most of these players go from teams that were physically and athletically superior to their opponents, with powerful offensive lines, dynamic running games, and receivers that regularly got open, to teams that struggle in one if not all of these areas, hence their high draft pick possession in the first place.

But young quarterbacks who saw instant success like Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger landed on teams with good infrastructures already in place. And when it was their time to step into the starting role, they had the support crew around them to make up for their lack of experience. In Brady's case — a sixth-round pick taking over for an injured Drew Bledsoe — he entered a system that was already competitive, had been to a Super Bowl only a few years previous, and likely was built for a Super Bowl run with either QB in place that season.

In Roethlisberger's case — himself taking over for an injured Tommy Maddox — Ben was surrounded by a vicious defense, a dominant running game led by Hall of Famer Jerome Bettis, and a line that could protect the rookie from getting the David Carr treatment. As a result he became the youngest quarterback to win a Super Bowl, doing so in his second season after losing in the AFC Championship game to Tom Brady's Patriots in Roethlisberger's rookie season.

Had Clausen gone to a team like the Rams or Browns, he would have been absolutely assaulted in his first season. There are too many examples of this ineptitude-induced punishment stunting the development of young quarterbacks to the point of career-long ineffectiveness. Instead, Jimmy will likely start right away for a team with a good defense and offensive line and talented receiving and running back corps (it doesn't get much better than DeAngelo Williams as a safety valve).

And to top it off he will be playing in nearly the exact same system in which he threw 60 touchdowns to only 27 interceptions under Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis, a fact not lost on the rookie QB.

"I think it's going to help me tremendously, being in coach Weis' system," Clausen said. "Coach Fox told me he said it was the same exact system I've played in the last three years. I'm really excited about that."

The kid who rolled up to his Notre Dame signing ceremony in a Hummer limo needed to be humbled. This is a fact not lost on many in football, inside and out, and may have hurt his draft status in and of itself. But maybe dropping to the second round of the NFL draft behind a quarterback who literally can't throw the ball is enough to accomplish this.

Maybe Clausen will be ready to step in at Carolina and finally transfer all that talent and those eye-popping statistics into actual wins. If he can, Jimmy Clausen will be the absolute steal of the draft.

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About Anthony Tobis

  • Hard to argue otherwise. This was also the Panthers first pick so it sounds like their dream situation came true. A lot of teams are nervous taking quarterbacks for first round money in recent years, especially because it’s easier in training game to figure out if the QB is right for their system.

    However … the last second round quarterback that “worked out” was Drew Brees in 2001. Since then:

    Kellen Clemens
    Tarvaris Jackson
    Kevin Kolb
    John Beck
    Drew Stanton
    Brian Brohm
    Chad Henne
    Pat White

    (For good measure, the last guy taken in the first round of each draft since 2002)
    Patrick Ramsey
    Rex Grossman
    J.P. Losman
    Jason Campbell
    Jay Cutler
    Brady Quinn
    Joe Flacco
    Josh Freeman

    So … a little better, and consider they money they have to dole out for guys in the late first round, as opposed to the second round.

    Now, the best late-round QB from each draft:

    Curtis Painter
    Dennis Dixon
    Trent Edwards
    Bruce Gradkowski
    Matt Cassel
    Matt Schaub
    Seneca Wallace
    David Garrard

    Honestly, there’s no reason to draft a QB in the first round, unless that’s the only thing you need. The Jets, for example, could afford to take Sanchez post-Favre, because they had a slew of other viable players.

  • Tony

    The Steelers took Big Ben in the first round of the 2004 draft but that was a rare situation where a team that good really only did need a QB. Maybe a receiver, but quarterback was the biggest issue with Maddux and Batch as the only resident QBs.

  • Joe

    I think that the Panthers got a steal on this one. I think that Clausen is going to develop into a big time QB.

  • Tony

    All indicators seem to point to that. He is far more polished than either Brady or Ben coming out of college and is joining a team with a great running game (to tighten up the opposing defense), a good defense, a a solid receiving corp., and a line that can protect him.

    Not to mention he already knows the checks and audibles in the offense, and they are complicated, which is one of the biggest hindrances to a college qb coming into the pros.

  • I think Denver made a good choice in Tebow. Character, ethics, and attitude go a long way.

  • Tony

    And having 3 QBs who think they should be starting ruins a team really fast.