The 2010 NFL Draft class was heralded as one of the most talented at the quarterback position in years. Franchise QBs were there for the taking and while the order they were picked may not have followed the expected path, they have all found new homes. Who will be the next Peyton Manning, and who will be the next Ryan Leaf? Only time will tell, but that won’t stop the writers here at TSD from making our best prognostications. So with no further ado, allow me introduce you to my pick for the Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2032 – Jimmy Clausen.
Ok, so maybe it’s a little early to start work on his plaque. But I do think Clausen is an incredibly talented athlete and he will be the most successful quarterback of the 2010 NFL Draft Class by far.
Jimmy Clausen has the tools and swagger to be a winner. Some people think he is cocky. I agree, but I like it. Anyone who heard the pre-draft read on Clausen is aware that he played in a pro-style offense. That puts him ahead of the learning curve and improves his odds of breaking camp with the starting job. Clausen knows he was the best player in the draft and he aims to prove that. To be a winner in the NFL you have to have self-confidence, and Clausen oozes it. Why should he be humble about his ability and promise?
He was a great college QB and his physical skills figure to make him successful in the NFL. Clausen is smart. He proved that at Notre Dame, where he made heads up plays even with the pressure of the media and huge expectations settled firmly on his shoulder pads. He may not have a cannon arm for an arm, but his above average accuracy will be more than enough to get the job done in an NFL. In recent years several teams have found success with passing games that focus on shorter high percentage passes. Short screen passes to Steve Smith – which the Panthers refer to as Smoke Routes –open things up for the big strike later. Expect John Fox to capitalize on this early and often. The post-Delhomme era Panthers need a gunslinger like Clausen to get the job done, and I think the pairing will be mutually beneficial.
Although it may not have felt like it on draft day, Jimmy Clausen probably could not have landed in a better situation than he did with the Carolina Panthers. He joins a team that is loaded with rookie and veteran talent and is coached by a cunning head coach that will give Clausen a chance to shine right away. Those are fantastic conditions for a young quarterback to grow and flourish in.
Carolina will be the perfect place for Clausen’s seeds of success to germinate. The Panthers will help him to mature and hone his skills by allowing him to play alongside the perfect blend of veteran talent and rookie exuberance. The knowledgeable voices of Steve Smith, Muhsin Muhammad, and John Kasay (I’m just kidding about that last one. Kickers have virtually nothing to offer but an occasional three points.) will help Clausen develop the timing and leadership that comes from experience and is so crucial to success in the NFL. And younger players like Jon Beason and Jonathan Stewart can help him learn the ropes of the pros and surround him with the youthful energy and edge he will need to become a winner.
John Fox’s offense will help take Jimmy Clausen straight to the top of the league. Coming to Carolina, Clausen will be equipped with a Pro Bowl playmaker in Steve Smith, a sure handed route runner in Muhammad, and talent rookies in Brandon LaFell, Armanti Edwards, and David Gettis. Similarly the “Double Trouble” tandem of Jonathan Stewart and DeAngello Williams will alleviate much of the burden Clausen might have had to carry had he landed with a team that had less of a running game. But, most importantly, John Fox will give Clausen a chance to start soon. If he proves out of camp he is the right guy for the job, which he will, Clausen could be making his case for Hall of Fame candidacy beginning in 2010. Unlike other coaches that allow talented players to waste away on the bench, in the name of learning to play the game, Fox will give Clausen a legitimate shot to take the job from incumbent starter Matt Moore, and that may make a world of difference for Clausen and the Panthers.
There are many signs pointing to Clausen’s huge potential, but to me the difference maker between him and all the other QBs in the draft is he has the most to prove. Clausen was rumored at one point to be in contention to be drafted number one overall. Instead he free falls to the second round. Not only did that make people question his ability, but it also impacted his livelihood. Instead of being compensated like a top ten pick, Clausen looks forward to being compensated like a second rounder. Sure the money is nothing to scoff at, but that fact alone will be motivation for a kid who knows his worth like Clausen does. The fact that Tim Tebow, despite all the questions and criticism, gets taken well before him will be motivation to the young gunslinger on every down of every game.
He knows he has to work that much harder to prove he is the best quarterback in the draft. He knows he has to change people’s minds. He knows he must be the best, and I firmly believe he is capable.