I want to start this off by stating that I am neither a Jimmy Clausen supporter, nor a Cam Newton hater. I simply want to make the case that the Carolina Panthers may have made a mistake in drafting Cam Newton with the first pick overall without giving Jimmy Clausen the chance to succeed under the new coaching staff. I am, first and foremost, a Carolina Panthers fan and I will support whomever the coaching staff puts on the field.
I’ve been thinking about this even before the draft, and especially since the draft. What are the Panthers going to do with Jimmy Clausen? It is easy to say the Jimmy Clausen is just another quarterback that couldn’t hack it at the NFL level, but that would not be a fair assessment of his skills. Jimmy Clausen was drafted last season to be the future of the Carolina Panthers. They cut Jake Delhomme and made Matt Moore the tentative starter almost immediately after Clausen was drafted. To say they didn’t have the confidence in Clausen to succeed is just wrong.
Some fans may not know that Jimmy Clausen won the NATIONAL High School Football Player of the Year in his senior year.
The prized recruit never lost a game that he started during his tenure at Oaks Christian High School, finishing with a 42-0 record. He received the Hall Trophy (actually called the Ball Park National High School Player of the Year Award) at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. He was named USA Today Offensive Player of the Year, adding National High School Offensive Player of the Year honors from the Touchdown Club of Columbus (Ohio). He was also named Co-Player of the Year by Parade and selected first-team All-American by the publication, along with being named a first-team All-American by Scout.com.
He was highly recruited at the collegiate level and finally declared for Notre Dame (we’ve all heard the white Hummer limo story) because of the Pro-style offense that Charlie Weiss was running. He struggled a bit to adjust to the collegiate level, but by his junior season, he was putting up some pretty good numbers and got the notice of a lot of NFL scouts. Jimmy Clausen was actually one of the highest rated quarterbacks in his draft class. His slide to number 48 overall was a shock to nearly every “expert” covering the NFL. After the jump, we’ll look a couple of the scouting reports from some of the major draft gurus….
The first scouting report comes from WalterFootball.com. It’s safe to say that Walter is fairly respected within the community:
By Matt McGuire
· Solid size and adequate bulk
· Very good arm strength; can fit balls into tight windows
· Extremely quick, snappy release
· Great accuracy
· Nice hip torque on throws
· Gets rid of ball quickly
· Very decisive with the football
· Takes what defense gives him; doesn't force ball/will throw away
· Elite football IQ
· Great touch
· Well versed in NFL offense
· Good sense of timing
· Will step up/out of pocket
· Knows how to read coverage
· Sees the entire field; great vision
· Very polished for a true junior
· Shown outstanding development from freshman to junior season
· Extremely intelligent
· Ice in his veins; great poise
· Mentally tough; plays through pain
· Big leader
· Film room rat
· Elite intangibles
· Good genetics and very well coached
· Spent 3.5 years in a West Coast offense
· Does a poor job of selling play action
· Can get lazy with footwork - but has improved this
· Not a fluid athlete
· Personality might come off as abrasive
· Sometimes gets too much air under fade route
· Lacks a little pocket awareness
Summary: Jimmy Clausen is a franchise quarterback. He has carried the spotlight since he was a teenager and has surpassed the hype. He has an outstanding skill set with the elite intangibles you see in the great quarterbacks. Clausen isn't fazed by tense situations and has great leadership when the game is on the line. He puts in the hours to be a great quarterback and you see it on tape. Clausen will likely be the first quarterback drafted and is a projected top-five draft pick.
Player Comparison: Kurt Warner. Warner and Clausen both exhibit the same three-quarter release, they get the ball out quickly, and are extremely decisive/intelligent quarterbacks. Clausen has a stronger arm.
The next scouting report comes from DraftboardInsider.com
Scouting Report-Clausen to me has the look of an NFL quarterback. He's got ideal NFL size, and just watching him throw, there's little to critique. He's got a tight, fast release, good upper body mechanics and more than adequate arm strength. From a technical standpoint, Clausen is excellent at reading defenses and making good decisions on the field. He knows when to take something off a throw and shows excellent touch on the short/intermediate balls and gets plenty of air under his deep throws. From an intangibles standpoint, Clausen is a leader on the field, shows a ton of poise, and always looks in control and commands his team. Clausen plays out of a pro style offense and that is a huge advantage he has over other top quarterback prospects. He's a student of the game and has no problem putting in lots and lots of time on the practice field and in the film room to get better. On the downside, for a kid out of a West Coast offense he needs to improve his footwork, especially under pressure and needs to get better selling the playaction fake. But compared to his peers he's way ahead. He also needs to learn to be a little more pocket aware as far as stepping up, keeping his head up field and making the throw rather than break contain and scrambling if he doesn't need to, although he does throw well on the run, and is nimble enough to get some yards with his feet.
Draft Status-If Clausen declares, I have a hard time not seeing him as the first quarterback off the board, which means a top 3 pick. He's more NFL ready than Locker or Bradford or Tebow, and he should have a really solid offseason. There are only a couple of the 5 worst teams that don't need a QB so him going no.1 overall isn't out of the question.
Final Analysis-Clausen's career at Notre Dame got off onto an interesting start, but the past two seasons he's been all that's advertised. While he doesn't have a single feature you can point too, like a huge arm, or great mobility, there are very few holes in his game, and his intangibles are really off the charts. It's like he does everything really well but nothing really exceptional, and in this NFL you need guys without big flaws. The speed of the NFL game looks to be the one thing Clausen will have to contend with, but he should be able to adjust.
Reminds me of: Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons - He probably doesn't have quite the arm strength of Ryan, but in terms of a skill set and physical stature they are very similar. Also, in terms of leadership and poise, both are very similar.
So my question is this: Why did the Panthers give up on him so quickly? It’s been said a million times that the former coaching staff had trouble developing quarterbacks. So, why not give the new staff a shot at it? The fact that he had a terrible rookie season shouldn’t have surprised anyone. He obviously wasn’t ready to step on to the field at the NFL level, and could have used another 6 or 7 games to get used to the speed of the game. The offensive coordinator, Jeff Davidson, seemed to have exactly one set of plays and was seemingly unwilling or unable to adapt the play calling and protection schemes necessary to help a struggling rookie QB. In fact, I think the Panthers should have been happy that he actually walked away from his rookie season nearly unscathed.
So, other than the coaching staff, what changed? Why was Hurney so adamant about finding a new franchise quarterback? Was it because he lacked the leadership qualities needed in an NFL QB? Was it because Clausen was an arrogant little prick? Was it simply that he had a horrific rookie season? Was it that Jerry Richardson lost complete faith in Clausen’s abilities? Hmmm, it really makes me wonder what their expectations were of him.
Now we have a bright new shiny rookie quarterback, Cam Newton. He is supposed to be new future of the franchise and the face of the Carolina Panthers for years to come. I think it’s safe to say we’ve all bought into the Cammy Cam juice a little bit, even if we were against drafting him.
The message was sent loud and clear to the players, the fans, and the rest of the NFL that the Carolina Panthers now have no confidence in ability of Jimmy Clausen to become a quality starting quarterback for the team. I find it very insulting to Jimmy Clausen that the Panthers put him in this position. I understand it’s a business and people come and go, but drafting a second quarterback with the team’s first pick two years in a row makes the franchise look incompetent. If you thought highly enough about Clausen to spend your first pick on him in last year’s draft, and quite possibly worked to trade this years’ first round pick to move up to get him, why would you abandon him after only his rookie season? IT JUST DOES NOT MAKE ANY SENSE TO ME AT ALL!