Is it wrong that my favorite part of the NFL Draft on Thursday night, by a whole lot, was watching Jimmy Clausen not get picked? I really hate Notre Dame, so that has a lot to do with it, but there's more to it than that.
I've seen Clausen play enough over the last three years that I'm not a believer in his potential as an NFL quarterback. I don't like his delivery, I don't like how he performs under pressure, I don't like his body language in the huddle on the majority of his plays, and I really don't like that Charlie Weis has shaped his development. Clausen was long assumed to be a first round pick, and a potential Top-10 choice by many, so it pleased me in a way I am not entirely proud of that he went through the first night without getting a job, and the fact that he wasn't even the second QB picked is just icing on this cake.
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My bias aside, the fact that he wasn't picked in the first round is a good indicator that the issues about his character and work ethic have at least some merit. If they didn't then some team would have made a move in the trade-heavy first round to grab him.
I've taken a few minutes (more than that, actually) to bask in the glow of this situation. Now comes the next intriguing question to be answered - how far is he going to fall? Here's a look at some possible destinations:
Minnesota - This is the first likely spot - perhaps the most likely. The Vikings had the 30th pick, and they traded it to Detroit for the second pick in the second round. They need a quarterback of the future, but this trade does nothing to make us think that Clausen isn't their guy. They knew that there wasn't a team between them and Detroit's pick that was going to pick Clausen, so there was a very good chance that they could move down, still get him, and pay less for the privilege.
Of course, you could look at it the other way as well - the fact that they moved down may mean that Clausen isn't necessarily their guy. If they were in love with him then they wouldn't have taken this risk at all. By making this trade they could be letting us know that they knew that Clausen or McCoy would be available in the second round, and either would be fine.
I'd probably bet that this will be the destination for Clausen. One thing Minnesota will like - this pick wouldn't sway Brett Favre one way or the other - Clausen could easily sit out a year and learn while Favre finishes out his career in his fourth consecutive final season if that's what he decides to do.
Kansas City - You could argue that Charlie Weis, with the fourth pick in the second round, might be tempted to take his guy instead of the high-risk guy he inherited. Not likely to happen, but it has to be mentioned.
Cleveland - They need a quarterback badly - badly enough that they reportedly offered virtually all of their picks this year to St. Louis for the right to pick Bradford. They have the 38th pick, so they could get him there. If they really liked him, though, then they would likely have traded into the first round again to get him - Holmgren clearly was okay with the idea of paying a lot for the right QB.
There's another question that looms here - can Cleveland afford to risk a pick of another Charlie Weis-groomed QB from Notre Dame? Doubtful. That's not the type of thing that is actually relevant, but it's something that would be perceived very badly by the public, and Holmgren probably can't afford that this early in the rebuilding process.
Oakland - Assuming that they could pick him 39th is assuming that Al Davis is smart enough these days to realize that JaMarcus Russell is a total disaster. For once, the Raiders made a good pick in the first round when they picked Rolando McClain at 10th. McClain was heavily valued, so the Raiders could easily have traded their pick, moved down in the first, picked Clausen, and picked up a pick or two as well if they really were committed to him. They say that Russell is still their guy, and I tend to believe that they believe that.
Seattle - With Russell Okung and Earl Thomas in the first round the first Pete Carroll draft will already go down as a success. He could really score a home run if he could pick the QB of the future for a perceived discount. They pick at the bottom end of the second round, so they would have to move up. That shouldn't be hard - even St. Louis' first pick of the day could be in play for the right price.
Carroll recruited Clausen heavily, and has reportedly kept in touch since losing out. The main reason I don't think that this will happen is that Carroll has already grossly overpaid for Charlie Whitehurst this offseason, and picking Clausen so soon would be admitting what everyone already assumes - that he made a mistake.
Washington - You can't rule this one out. Sure, they have Donovan McNabb, but he's not going to last forever, and if he doesn't work out then the Redskins are only currently tied to him until next year. Whether it works or not, the team needs to be looking towards the future. By picking Clausen, Mike Shanahan could afford to patiently groom him for the future while riding McNabb in the present. The one downside of that plan, though, is that McNabb is such a diva that he would likely pout and perhaps underperform as a result.
San Francisco - They picked up two very solid offensive linemen in the first round. Now they need to decide who those guys are going to be protecting. Personally, I'm an Alex Smith fan, but I know that many aren't. If the team doesn't believe that Smith has a long-term future then Clausen could be a solution. He's from California, so he'd likely be a popular choice. They only pick 49th, so they would likely have to move up. Given that they are a solid team that has to believe that they are close to contending, they might not mind having to give up a pick or two to do so - they need impact picks more than they need depth picks.
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Buffalo - They probably need a new quarterback. Their actions so far make me question if they are in the market for one, though. In the first round they selected C.J. Spiller. He's a very talented player and a sound pick. Given all of Buffalo's serious problems, though - they have needs at several positions - a guy like Spiller seems like more of a luxury than a necessity. They could have picked a higher need guy with that pick, or traded down to a place where doing so made sense. The fact that they didn't says that they aren't desperately concerned about those issues, and that makes me think that they won't likely move up to take Clausen here.