Tag:Notre Dame
Posted on: April 21, 2010 10:36 pm
Edited on: April 21, 2010 10:37 pm

First Round Stunners, Part Two

My fellow senior analyst Chad Reuter and I wrote up five bold predictions each in articles here and here .

Like Chad, I elected to push the boundary with the definition of "bold," predicting a trade with the first pick among other things. I fully recognize that the Rams aren't likely to make this trade. I've spoken to enough people in the league, however, that caused me to feel there was a reasonable enough chance of it occurring that I listed it.

Last year , I went out on a limb and predicted that Tyson Jackson, not Aaron Curry, would be the first defensive player selected and that Andre Smith would be a top ten pick. Chad had the even better bold (and true) prediction, picking the Raiders to take Darrius Heyward-Bey at No. 7.

We were ridiculed at the time for our picks and some ended up not happening. A few, however, ended up being true. I don't anticipate either of us getting all five of our predictions correct this time either, but would be disappointed if we don't pull off at least a few of them.

Because these predictions are such conversation-starters, I thought I'd include a few more that I considered using in the original article.

  • In the "do as I say, not as I've done" department, watch out for Georgia Tech wideout Demaryius Thomas to jump way up in this draft. Some teams, in fact, have him rated higher than Dez Bryant -- and that isn't just due to Bryant's so-called character concerns. I mention the "do as I say" aspect as I don't have Bryant listed on my 4/19 mock draft. After conversations with a few more team sources over these past few days, however, I've been lectured enough to change my thinking on this kid and will certainly be moving him up for the final mock I'm finishing tonight (available Thursday morning). I've acknowledged his dazzling physical upside in the past, but what I hadn't realized is how impressive "Bay-Bay" has done in interviews. The perception might be that Thomas isn't pro-ready due to his time in such a run-heavy offense, but he has dazzled teams in interviews with his on and off-field intelligence. Considering he scored a 34 on the Wonderlic -- second best among all WRs (Eric Decker had a 43) -- perhaps this shouldn't have surprised me (34 on the Wonderlic; second best among WRs), but I admit, it did. I'd still be a bit surprised if he jumped ahead of Bryant, but I'd certainly no longer be stunned.  
  • With all due respect to Mr. Mel Kiper, Jr., Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen absolutely remains in play for the Seattle Seahawks. I don't feel strongly enough to have included it among my original bold predictions, but I would not be the least bit surprised if Pete Carroll took Clausen. He knows him well; much better than he knew Charlie Whitehurst before making the trade for him. He couldn't have. Whitehurst hasn't played. If Seattle was willing to gamble picks on a quarterback they couldn't possibly have known as well as Carroll knows Clausen just to solidify the position, they could do it again. Consider that if Seattle hadn't traded for Whitehurst and given him millions, many would be assuming at this point that Seattle would be strongly considering the former USC recruit. Because of that deal, most aren't. I'm not sure that is a safe assumption.
  • I believe center Maurkice Pouncey is being heavily considered by the Denver Broncos. They own the 11th pick and I can't imagine them taking him there, but they can't afford to trade down too far if they want to get him, as there are several teams in the mid to late teens who love Pouncey. There is a bigger dropoff between Pouncey and the No. 2 rated center (either Baylor's J.D. Walton or Boston College's Matt Tennant, depending on the team) than between the top-rated and second-best prospect at any other position in this draft. To put it into perspective how rare taking a true center in the top half of the draft is, note that the last time it happened was 1993 when the Cleveland Browns selected Steve Everitt from Michigan with the 14th overall pick.

Posted on: April 10, 2010 10:59 am

Scout: Clausen good, Tate better at Pro Day

Despite all of the attention heaped upon Jimmy Clausen's workout yesterday, the true star on the field, one scout in attendance told me, was Clausen's former wide receiver, Golden Tate.

"Clausen was good. Give him credit. He fired the ball in there better than I thought he would and he handled the pressure well. He looked like he was having fun out there, and that was important to the guys who questioned his leadership," the high ranking scout told me on the condition of anonymity.

"But, the best player on the field was Tate. No question."

Tate's strong showing doesn't surprise me -- nor should it surprise any one who has done any legitimate film review of him.

While I'm always hesitant to make comparisons of college players to NFL standouts, I've consistently compared Tate to Panthers All-Pro Steve Smith.

Smith (5'9, 185) and Tate's (5-10, 199) lack of prototypical size might be the most obvious reason for the comparison, but in reality, this is just one of the several attributes each player brings. Both are more like running backs after the catch than wide receivers, showing not only the agility and acceleration to make defenders miss and pull away from them -- but also the vision to set up downfield blocks and the willingness to cut back into the middle (where few undersized receivers are willing to go). Both are short in stature, but giants in terms of toughness and physicality.

What I like most about Tate (and Smith) is that despite their height, they each boast spectacular timing and body control during their leaps for contested passes. Few, if any receivers, consistently win more "jump balls" than these two so-called "undersized" receivers. 

And let's not forget that Tate is far from just a workout warrior. Sure, his 4.42 time in the 40-yard dash at the Combine was impressive, but his production at Notre Dame was even better. Tate won the Biletnikof Award as the nation's best receiver, breaking school records for receptions (93) and receiving yards (1,496) and tying the mark for receiving touchdowns (15). He also scored two touchdowns as a runner and another as a punt returner. 

When Tate falls out of the first round -- and according to sources throughout the league there is a growing consensus that he will -- don't take that as a sign that he's been overrated or that his former quarterback was the best Notre Dame player last year.

If taken with anything less than a first round pick, Tate will prove to be one of the great steals of the 2010 draft.

Posted on: April 9, 2010 2:09 pm

Clausen "looked pretty good" at Pro Day

Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen threw for scouts Friday morning in South Bend, easing concerns about his surgically repaired toe.
According to scouts in attendance, Clausen "looked pretty good," driving the ball on intermediate routes and completing 57 of 59 passes overall. His two incompletions come on long balls in which he overthrew his receiver.

Like Sam Bradford's Pro Day, Clausen's workout was scripted. He took 3, 5 and 7 steps drops, though he did not attempt any bootlegs or perform in the 40-yard dash due to the fact that he is still recovering from the injury. Afterwards he described himself as "75-80%" of his normal self. Clausen has only recently been able to throw and fully workout following his surgery, January 5. Due to the surgery, Clausen was unable to workout for scouts at the Combine or in Notre Dame's first Pro Day. Clausen will be traveling to Indianapolis for a medical re-check, but afterwards has visits and private workouts lined up with several clubs, including the St. Louis Rams, Washington Redskins and Buffalo Bills.

Clausen threw to four former Notre Dame receivers: Golden Tate, James Aldridge, Robby Parris and David Grimes.

There were 16 teams represented Friday. Among the heavy hitters in attendance at Clausen's Pro Day were St. Louis general manager Billy Devaney, head coach Steve Spagnuolo, Buffalo general manager Buddy Nix, and Seattle offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates.

I currently have Clausen being drafted by the Buffalo Bills in my mock draft.

Posted on: March 23, 2010 5:53 pm

Clausen at ND Pro Day to cheer on teammates

I've gone on the record on multiple occasions with my feelings on Jimmy Clausen. I feel that he's a potential first round quarterback more due to the value of the position than his ability. I do believe he can be a starting quarterback in the NFL, but, like Brady Quinn before him, I believe his good talent has been greatly enhanced by extraordinary coaching, giving him limited upside for the NFL.

Besides my occasional rants about him, Clausen has taken the brunt of negative comments from a host of others lately, not the least of which was Cleveland Browns' president Mike Holmgren, who seemed to throw a wet blanket on the idea that the Browns might take the former Irish star with the comment, "I wish I liked him more."

For all of the negativity that has been coming down on Clausen recently, I believe the guy deserves some credit for attending Notre Dame's Pro Day today.

Scouts knew he wasn't working out. He'd long ago scheduled his own personal Pro Day April 9 after undergoing surgery on his toe. As he surprisingly admitted to Brian Hamilton of the Chicago Tribune, he only began running in preparation for his April 9 workout yesterday .

Whether Clausen will be in proper shape for his upcoming workout is fodder for another blog post.

Deserved or not, among the concerns scouts have expressed to me about Clausen is his leadership ability, or rather his perceived lack thereof. Some in the league believe that Clausen wasn't the greatest of teammates while at Notre Dame.

Perhaps offering some proof that this was not the case, Clausen showed up to root on his former Irish teammates Tuesday. Considering that he feels his toe is "not as strong as I want it" it would have been easy to understand why he'd have remained in training room rather than the cheering section Tuesday.

Sometimes leadership is all about the actions rather than the words. In this case, Clausen's actions showed some of the leadership scouts want to see from a first round quarterback.
Posted on: February 28, 2010 2:27 pm

Impressions from second QB-WR session -QB Report

I just got back from the second (and final) throwing session of the Combine and I can tell you this... Oklahoma State's Zac Robinson will be rising up draft boards with his performance today.

With highly touted passers Sam Bradford, Jimmy Clausen, Colt McCoy, Tim Tebow and Dan LeFevour all sitting out the throwing session, Robinson was among several passers who took advantage of the spotlight.

Robinson showed good footwork and balance dropping back -- a question mark considering he's coming from a spread offense -- and was consistently accurate to all levels of the field. He zipped intermediate slants and dig routes and showed plenty of drive on the deep out. As a perfect example of why quarterbacks should throw at the Combine, Robinson scored points with scouts on the accuracy of his deep ball (good trajectory, outside shade) despite none of his deep passes actually being caught by his receivers.

Arguably the second most impressive quarterback on this day was surprisingly Ole Miss' Jevan Snead. Snead was as accurate on this day as I've ever seen him -- hitting receivers in stride consistently and showing off his good arm strength. The problem with Snead is that he knows he has a good arm and he relies on it.  He carries the ball a bit low and has a very quick release, but he rarely stepped into his throws today, relying almost exclusively on his arm. Snead has intriguing tools -- and he clearly helped his cause today by showing them -- but quarterback coaches I've spoken with in the past have pointed this out as an issue.

Cincinnati's Tony Pike was inconsistent today. The opposite of Snead, Pike has steps into his throws and has a nice over-the-top delivery, which is enhanced by his 6-5, 243 pounds. However, he sprayed the ball today, especially when throwing outside the numbers. He got better as the day went on and didn't do anything to lower his stock, but he certainly didn't seize the opportunity, either.

Under the radar quarterbacks Thaddeus Lewis (Duke), Riley Skinner (Wake Forest) and John Skelton (Fordham) showed why they are rated as they are. Lewis was inconsistent to most levels of the field, except on the deep ball - where his wounded ducks forced receivers to slow and, at times even stop their routes, to wait for the ball. Skelton was wildly erratic, especially early in the gauntlet drills. His high and wide throws consistently forced receivers to adjust, throwing off their balance and timing during drills.

Posted on: February 27, 2010 3:05 pm

Undefinable "it?" Bradford has it

Moments after being underwhelmed by Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen, I was surprised by how impressive Sam Bradford was in person.

First off, while I felt that Jimmy Clausen looked even smaller than his measured 6-2, 222 he measured in for scouts yesterday, Bradford looked all of 6-4, 236 pounds. He had gained obvious muscle mass in his upper body.

And while not necessarily as comfortable in the spotlight as Mark Sanchez or Matt Stafford were last year, there was no doubt that the former Heisman winner owned the media room with a confidence and ease that will be very attractive to teams.

One of the real questions scouts had about Sam Bradford was his leadership. He appeared so quiet and reserved in prior interviews that I, too, wondered if he had the fire to lead. I had mentioned in a previous blog post about the undefinable "it" that scouts look for at the quarterback position -- a combination of charisma, poise and intelligence.

I continue to believe that Nebraska DT Ndamukong Suh is the best and safest player in this draft. He is the player I'd take with the first pick.


Assuming that Bradford can prove his health and is as impressive on his March 25 Pro Day as I expect him to be, I can certainly understand why he's generating momentum to be the No. 1 overall pick.

Posted on: February 27, 2010 1:43 pm

Clausen articulate, but bland on podium

In many of the previous blog posts I've discussed the importance teams place on personal interviews. This is especially true with quarterbacks.

Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen was solid, but unspectacular in his interview with the media. He appeared calm and answered questions about the perception that he is not a leader or good teammate with diplomacy, patience and intelligence. He explained his strengths well, pointing out that he takes good care of the ball, is a tough kid who is willing to play through pain and that he has been groomed in a pro-style offense.

At the same time, he did not provide the "buzz" to command a room that many of the top-rated quarterbacks of previous years have.

As wishy-washy as that might sound, it could be important. Players who treat their interview with the media as an extension of the job interview these four days essentially are, try to be dynamic. Every one who is looking for a job wants to be the person his potential employer remembers and knows in his "gut" when he's found the right fit. For all of the hours and millions of dollars that go into scouting, teams still often rely on these gut decisions.

For this job, teams are looking for quarterbacks who possess that undefinable "it" quality.

If Clausen has "it," the quality wasn't obvious this afternoon.
Posted on: February 26, 2010 1:38 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2010 3:45 pm

Colt McCoy barely tops 6-1

With all of the talk surrounding Sam Bradford and Jimmy Clausen's size, Colt McCoy may have been the surprise story so far today, measuring in at only 6-1 1/8 and 216 pounds. He had already been considered small by NFL standards, having been listed by the Longhorns at 6-2, 210 pounds. Therefore, in the weight department, McCoy actually may have secured his standing a bit.

That said, at only 6-1, those who question if McCoy has the bulk to handle the punishment of an NFL season will be further concerned -- especially considering his recurring shoulder problems.

Considering that the Super Bowl was just won on the golden arm of a quarterback listed by the Saints at 6-0, 209 pounds, however, some would argue that too much is being made of McCoy's size. Especially considering that while short, Brees' surprisingly large hands have helped him be one of the league's more secure ball-handlers.

Like Brees, McCoy has the hands of a larger man. In fact, his hands (9 3/4") were larger than those of Bradford (9 1/2") or Clausen (9"). Clausen's 9" hands are the smallest of the quarterbacks measured in Indianapolis. 

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com