JAMES RICHARD CLAUSEN
MEASUREMENTS: 6' 3", 223 pounds, out of Westlake Village, California.
THINGS THE PROS GET RIGHT: It depends which pro you are referencing, as we've already proven Todd McShay has no idea what he is talking about in regards to Mr. Clausen. Some scouting reports worry that Clausen is too small in both height and build to be a consistent NFL quarterback, although one would think the recent successes of Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers would have disproven that theory to some degree. Scouts also attribute some of Clausen's success to the great talent he was throwing to, including Golden Tate, Michael Floyd and Kyle Rudolph, all great receiving threats who certainly helped out the QB's junior season. However, more and more scouts have also started to notice that his offensive line wasn't the stoutest, so he had to move around in the pocket a lot while worrying about uninhibited blitzers sprinting through at any moment.
Clausen's 2009 season showed he had absorbed the tutelage of Charlie Weis for three years and was ready to move on, throwing for 28 touchdowns (8th in the nation), 4 interceptions (4th least in the nation), 3,722 yards (4th) and a 161.2 QB rating (2nd), all with a 68% completion percentage (4th). He led fierce fourth quarter comebacks for wins over Michigan State, Purdue, Washington and Boston College, and a few more charges that fell just short (USC, Navy, Pitt) or succeeded with too much time on the clock (Michigan, Stanford). Clausen played most of the season on a bad toe, dragging one leg around while avoiding defenders and picking apart defenses. When the experts say Clausen is a polished QB, they are correct. Take a look at the improvement over his three years as a starter.
THINGS THE PROS MAY NOT ACCOUNT FOR: I don't think the pros take into account just how bad the team around Clausen was his freshman year and how that stunted his early development. The offensive line was essentially non-existent for most of the 2007 season, leaving Clausen in a position like this a lot of the time.
There were a few times this season when it seemed like Clausen perhaps suffered flashbacks to those terrifying early games, but he always snapped back to 2009 and composed himself with relative haste.
NON-FOOTBALL THING YOU MAY FIND ENDEARING/CHARMING/INTERESTING: In the summer before the 2009 season, Clausen flew Tate, Floyd and Rudolph out to California to work on passing drills and hang out on the beach. While no videos of this are available, we imagine it was similar to the Rocky III training montage, only with longer shorts and less hugging. If it didn't resemble Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed sprinting through the surf, then you can be sure it was reminiscent of Knute Rockne and Gus Dorais perfecting the forward pass on the beach in Sandusky, Ohio, in 1913.
TOTAL SUMMARY GRADING OF OVER/UNDERRATED: Again, ignoring King Ill-Informed Contrarian Todd McShay, most drafts have had Clausen going somewhere between four and ten, which seems perfectly fair. Drafting a quaterback in the NFL is extremely difficult and a bit of a crapshoot (Malcolm Gladwell wrote an entire New Yorker story about it being an inexact science), but Clausen has shown that he's a mature, capable signal caller who can get the ball to his receivers quickly. I will make no guarantees about his ability to excel at the next level, but there aren't a lot of clear red flags. Perhaps his greatest strength is his ability to put the ball right on the hands of his intended targets. In college, that let his receivers pick up huge yardage after the catch. In the pros, that will be the difference between a completion and an interception, and that sort of accuracy could make all the difference with his career.