2010 NFL Draft: Why Jimmy Clausen Will Be a Better NFL QB Than Sam Bradford

Dan ParzychSenior Writer IApril 5, 2010

PALO ALTO, CA - NOVEMBER 28:  Jimmy Clausen #7 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish walks the sideline during their game against the Stanford Cardinal at Stanford Stadium on November 28, 2009 in Palo Alto, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

While Okalahoma's Sam Bradford will most likely be selected as the top overall quarterback in this year's class, one of the hottest discussions entering the 2010 NFL Draft is whether or not he will be more successful than Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen.

Both quarterbacks have the potential to turn into the type of franchise quarterback owners are looking to build their team around. However, Clausen may be the better candidate over Bradford when taking a number of factors into consideration.

Here are 10 reasons why Clausen will be a more successful quarterback than Bradford in the NFL.


10. Bradford Is More of an Injury Risk than Clausen

Instead of entering the 2009 NFL Draft, Bradford made the decision to return for his junior season with the hope of helping the Oklahoma Sooners contending for the national championship. Instead, his season was cut short by a severe shoulder injury on his throwing arm not once, but twice.

In the first game of the '09 season, Bradford suffered a third-degree AC joint sprain and missed the next three games. In his second game back, he re-injured the same shoulder—only this time, he needed surgery and would miss the remainder of the season.

He may have looked good during his workout last week at Oklahoma, but that doesn't mean Bradford's shoulder won't be a concern on draft day.


9. Mel Kiper's Comments Regarding Clausen

ESPN's Mel Kiper is arguably one of the most knowledgeable football analysts on this planet. What he had to say about Clausen's teammates may draw interest from owners who may be in need of a quarterback:

"I spoke to teammates of Jimmy Clausen’s, both from a standpoint of guys who are there now still—defensive players in particular—and offensive players like Golden Tate and his former defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta. And they raved about this kid, basically saying, ‘If all our players would have had the work ethic and attitude of Jimmy Clausen, we would have won the championship."


8. Clausen's 2009 Statistics

Despite finishing 6-6 last season, it's not fair for Notre Dame's disappointing record to be blamed on Clausen considering a poor defense that allowed 25.9 points per game. Not to mention the team's lack of a running game.

Clausen quietly displayed one of the best seasons for quarterbacks in 2009. Scouts should not only be impressed at his 68 percent competition percentage but also the 3,722 yards and 28 touchdowns thrown in his 12 games played. He also threw just four interceptions.


7. Clausen's Cocky Attitude Resembles Philip Rivers'

One of the characteristics people can't stand about Clausen is his cocky attitude. As annoying as this may seem at times, it can help players succeed at the professional level.

Just look at San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers.

Rivers—like Clausen—has one of the cockiest attitudes in the NFL. However, the argument can be made his cockiness is part of the reason why he's so successful and arguably the best quarterback to have when trailing in the fourth quarter.


6. The Impact of Charlie Weis

After a five-year stint as Notre Dame's head coach, it's clear Charlie Weis is more effective as an offensive coordinator—which is why the Kansas City Chiefs were willing to sign him so quickly after he was fired.

As the offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots from 2000 to 2004, Weis built one of the top offenses in football and was a major reason to the development of quarterback Tom Brady.

In his three years with the Fighting Irish, Clausen learned from one of the best offensive-minded coaches football has seen this past decade. Last season was enough evidence to show the type of quarterback he's developed into since his freshman year, and the argument can be made that, without Weis, Clausen may never have been as successful.


5. Clausen Has Experience in a Pro-Style Offense

Most experts are placing Bradford ahead of Clausen when it comes to ranking quarterbacks in this year's draft. However, there is one area the Notre Dame standout has an advantage that could play a key role in his success in the NFL.

Bradford lacks the experience of already playing in a pro-style offense—which Clausen did while at Notre Dame. Clausen's experience gives him an advantage over Bradford since he's already proven to find success within the system.

While Bradford has potential, he still needs to prove himself as an effective quarterback in a system at a professional level. Until then, Clausen will have the upper hand.


4. Bradford Played On a Talented Oklahoma Team

Last season, Oklahoma posted an 11-2 record and contained one of the most talented teams in football. There has been enough talent on both sides of the ball during his career with the Sooners to make life easier for Bradford at quarterback.

Because of the talent surrounding him, it seemed nearly impossible for Bradford not to find success as Oklahoma's quarterback. The type of system Bob Stoops has with the Sooners seems to make any player throwing the ball successful.

Meanwhile, Clausen's ability as a quarterback was shown last season with his lack of a supporting cast—especially on defense. There's a good chance Bradford will be drafted by a team with areas of need other than quarterback.

With this in mind, it should be interesting to see how Bradford adjusts from a strong supporting cast to playing with an NFL team currently in rebuilding mode.


3. The Possibility of Mike Shanahan Coaching Clausen

Yes, the recent trade of Donovan McNabb to the Washington Redskins may immediately have an impact on what the team may consider on draft day. Many analysts expected Clausen to go to the Redskins with the No. 4 overall pick, but now it seems more likely they will go with an offensive lineman.

Still, there's always that slim chance Washington may go with Clausen to allow him a few years to develop before officially taking over the starting job. Mike Shanahan has played a major role in developing quarterbacks throughout his career—including John Elway, Jake Plummer, and Jay Cutler.

It may seem like a long shot now, but the Redskins have proven to surprise us in the past. Knowing Daniel Snyder, it wouldn't come as a surprise if Washington still decided to select Clausen anyway in a few weeks.


2. Draft Selection

As mentioned before, there may seem to be a slim chance the Redskins end up selecting Clausen after the recent acquisition of McNabb. With this in mind, there's an even better chance Clausen falls to a team later in the first round—which could work out to his advantage.

While Bradford is likely primed to be selected as the first quarterback in the upcoming draft, Clausen will most likely fall to the mid- or late first round to a team with not as many areas in need of improvement.

Regardless of which team drafts Bradford, he will most likely need a few years before he can be considered a legitimate threat in the NFL. If Clausen falls to a more talented team, he may find success quicker while making the adjustment with a more talented team.


1. Offensive Line

During his time at Oklahoma, Bradford never had to worry about defenders knocking him over as much thanks to the success of a strong offensive line. Once he gets to the NFL, he may receive a rude wake-up call.

For most rookie quarterbacks, it can be quite the adjustment making the transition from college to the pros. After playing most of their college careers never having to worry as much about protection, they tend to get knocked around with their new teams (just ask Matthew Stafford). 

Clausen has the experience of playing with a weaker offensive line and being knocked around by opposing defenders. He may not have enjoyed it while at Notre Dame, but it could end up being a blessing in disguise once he jumps to playing at a professional level.


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