Five short years ago, the football world kissed the ground that Charlie Weis walked on, tossed rose petals at his feet and marveled at the fact that he was the offensive mind that built Tom Brady into part-human, part-machine, all quarterback legend as the New England Patriots brought home three Super Bowl rings.
Shortly thereafter, Weis was leading the Notre Dame Irish football program into mediocrity.
But at first, it wasn’t half bad. As Charlie went, so did the legendary status of the Notre Dame quarterback – building each in a Brady-like fashion.
First up was Brady Quinn – loaded with Popeye-like arms and superhero-like numbers (35 TD and 5 INT in his senior season at Notre Dame).
Due to his ties to Weis, it came as no surprise that Brady Quinn would emerge as “the next big thing” in the NFL – what with the numbers he put up in college, the skill set he appeared to have (strong arm, athletic and all the intangibles) and the confidence he showed on the field.
But, Brady Quinn never took off – and a few short days ago, the Cleveland Browns shipped him to Denver in a trade.
So that opens up a new can of worms – as Jimmy Clausen (6’3” 223 lb) enters this NFL Draft as another talented Notre Dame QB product built up by Charlie Weis. Should he be coupled with Quinn, or be an entity of his own?
Will Brady Quinn’s lack of NFL success hurt Jimmy Clausen’s draft stock?
The answer is simple: No way.
Jimmy Clausen is his own player. In fact, if anything is going to hurt Jimmy Clausen, it’s himself – not Charlie Weis, not Brady Quinn… not anyone else.
With Clausen – like everyone – there are pluses and minuses.
First, there are the positives. Jimmy Clausen, as described by Rivals.com, “showcases good timing and anticipation on his routes and consistently gets the ball out on time.” Also mentioned, is that Clausen is solid “going though his progressions and possesses the ability to scan the entire field and work his way through his reads.” Finally, “Clausen snaps the ball out of his hands quickly and is an accurate passer.”
But if I were a GM in the NFL, I’d look at the whole body of work. There are a bevy of quarterbacks with intangibles that Clausen has – and a number that show better leadership.
Quarterback is a position made for a quality leader – and when I think of Clausen, all I can think of is an arrogant kid showing up in a stretch Hummer to announce that he was going to play for Notre Dame.
I picture a kid that got socked by a fan outside of a restaurant – and likely not for “innocent bystander reasons” – leaving him with a shiner the size of the number of losses posted by the Irish during his final season.
So, if I’m an NFL GM – one working in a time where players like Ben Roethlisberger are making as many headlines off the field as on – I’m turning the other cheek.
Why? Because, Jimmy Clausen is being rated to be a high selection – and there are plenty of individuals available that aren’t just high quality talents, but players with high character.
So when someone comes up to me and asks if a GM should hesitate to take a Weis product after the first college prototype failed – that being Brady Quinn – I say no.
But when someone asks me if I would avoid a high draft pick on Charlie’s second QB talent in Jimmy Clausen, I would say yes.
Don’t buy into it coming from me? What about from Mike Holmgren, President of the Cleveland Browns? In an interview with Tony Grossi of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Holmgren said of Clausen: “I wish I liked him more. You know how you have a type of player that you like? It’s not scientific. People like him a lot. He’ll go high. But it would be hard for me [to take him].”
If a team wants to take a chance and spend a first rounder on a quarterback – then work out a trade to deal up for Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford – a high talent with top-notch character and leadership skills. Toss in work ethic too, especially after all the improvements we have seen from Bradford when rehabbing from last season’s shoulder injury.
On top of that, one could wait and take a guy like Colt McCoy in the second round – because even though he may not have the frame that Clausen has – McCoy is a high character player that throws with great accuracy. That, plus guys of his size have proven that they can win in the NFL – most recently Drew Brees, who hoisted up the Vince Lombardi Trophy a few short months ago.
Still, on top of any great debate such as this one, there’s also a coach at the highest level that has enough arrogance of his own that he feels that he can turn any talent into an elite talent.
Therefore, expect someone to use a high pick on Jimmy Clausen.
It just wouldn’t be me.
The question remains – would it be you?