Tag:Notre Dame
Posted on: February 26, 2010 11:36 am
Edited on: February 26, 2010 3:44 pm

Bradford, Clausen rising... literally

Sam Bradford was listed at 6-4, 223 pounds by the Oklahoma Sooners. His slight frame had been one of the concerns for scouts, who questioned whether the former Heisman winner had the build to withstand the punishment of an NFL season.

Bradford helped his own cause by measuring in at 6-4 1/4  and 236 pounds for scouts today. Scouts on hand characterized him as trim in the waist and thicker in his upper body than he'd been previously.

His prototypical frame only adds to the seemingly ever-expanding momentum Bradford is gaining to overtake Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh to be the first pick overall.

Jimmy Clausen also came in bigger than expected, measuring in at 6-2 5/8 and 222 pounds. There had been some talk in league circles that Clausen would come in at 6-1 or less.

Posted on: January 5, 2010 12:36 am

Clausen to have surgery; won't throw at Combine

Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen will undergoe surgery Tuesday to repair two torn ligaments in his right foot.

He is expected to be sidelined for 8-12 weeks and rather than rush the rehabilitation and throw at the Combine, he'll attempt to work out for scouts in early April, according to a report by ESPN.  Assuming the time-table in the report is accurate and that Clausen heals as expected, he's left with little wiggle-room to throw before the draft, approximately 15 weeks away.

Any concern about Clausen's health could prove significant. The former Irish star's primary competition to be the first quarterback selected, Oklahoma junior Sam Bradford, is both bigger and more accurate. Scouts feel Clausen is more ready to make the jump to the NFL due to his experience in Charlie Weis' pro-style offense, but also pointed to his health as a reason why he could go higher on draft day than Bradford. Without the advantage of greater health, the momentum might switch to Bradford, who most scouts feel has the higher upside.

Posted on: December 10, 2009 8:11 pm

If Kelly to be successful, he can't forget the D

If Brian Kelly -- or anyone else for that matter -- is to be successful at Notre Dame, he'll have to accomplish a feat that Bob Davie, Tyrone Willingham and Charlie Weis were never able to accomplish.

Win, of course, but also to rebuild a defense that has been sorely lacking in talent since the end of the Lou Holtz era.

Considering Notre Dame's natural recruiting advantages, many will be surprised to learn that the Irish haven't had a defensive player drafted in the first round in well over a decade. In fact, it was 1997 -- Davie's first year leading the Irish -- that the Jacksonville Jaguars selected defensive lineman Renaldo Wynn with the 21st pick of the draft. Since, there has been only one Notre Dame defender even drafted within the first 50 picks of any draft, and that was defensive tackle Trevor Laws to the Eagles two years ago... who went 47th overall.

During Lou Holtz's reign (1986-1996), on the other hand, there were 12 Fighting Irish defenders drafted within the first 50 picks...

I can understand why Notre Dame fired Charlie Weis. He simply didn't win enough games. However, the man was brought in due to his brilliance as an offensive coach. He helped turn Brady Quinn into a first round pick, recruited and will have successfully made Jimmy Clausen into a first round pick and has produced some talented skill position players around them in tight ends John Carlson (2008 2nd round pick to Seattle) and Anthony Fasano (2006 2nd round pick to Dallas) and wide receivers Maurice Stovall (2006 3rd round pick to Tampa Bay) and Golden Tate.

If Notre Dame is to return to its former glory -- a monumental task considering their high academic standards and tough annual schedule -- they can't just rely on the flashy offensive stars to get it done.

Congratulations to Brian Kelly on the new job. I wish you the best... (and by that I mean a pass rusher or shutdown cornerback or two...)

Posted on: December 1, 2009 2:11 pm

Bowden, Weis could impact draft

With Charlie Weis' firing and Bobby Bowden's reported retirement, NFL scouts expect highly rated underclassmen from Notre Dame and Florida State to even more strongly consider leaving school early for the pros.

Speculation is rampant throughout the league that Irish quarterback Jimmy Clausen will enter the 2010 draft and his favorite wide receiver, Golden Tate, is likely to leave, as well.

Clausen is widely considered the most NFL-ready quarterback in the country due to his blend of physical talents, experience in a pro-style offense under Weis, and three years as a starter. If Clausen does indeed leave, it would be hard for any new Notre Dame coach to convince Tate that his stock would improve in 2010. His numbers would almost certainly go down with a new quarterback and potentially new offense and regardless of when he leaves Notre Dame, he'll be the same size, which is the most obvious drawback for the receiver -- perhaps generally listed at 5-11, 195 poinds by the Irish.

Perhaps the most intriguing development, however, could occur with the Seminoles and quarterback Christian Ponder. Like Clausen, Ponder has multiple years of starting experience in a pro-style offense and has showcased the big and accurate arm scouts are looking for. Just as importantly, he's shown a great deal of improvement throughout his career. The shoulder injury that ended Ponder's season prematurely will be healed in time for pre-draft workouts, which has prompted some scouts to float his name as a potential "surprise" early declaration.

One would presume that the relationship already in place with offensive coordinator and expected new coach Jimbo Fisher will keep Ponder in Tallahassee for his senior campaign. However, considering the relative dearth of senior talent at quarterback and the potential salary loss for rookies following this draft, the FSU quarterback is one scouts may be pondering before anyone thought...

Posted on: November 21, 2009 7:24 pm

Final home game for Clausen? I'm not impressed.

I'll leave others to make the argument for or against this being Charlie Weis' final home game as the head coach for the Fighting Irish.

I have no problem weighing in, however, on whether junior quarterback Jimmy Clausen should leave early for the NFL.

I believe it would be a mistake.

I've scouted Clausen for three years. I acknowledge his physical tools, toughness and understanding of a pro-style offense. However, for all of the hype Clausen and Notre Dame have received in general for their many tight games down the stretch, I've been consistently underwhelmed by their (and more specifically, his) performance. For a quarterback to leave school early for the NFL, I want to see the ability to put his collegiate team on his shoulders and lead them to victory. I saw Clausen play to not lose this game -- just as I have done many times in the past. I saw him make some terrific, NFL-caliber throws, as well, including the touchdown to send the game into its second overtime. I also saw, however, a great deal of inconsistency in the game's crucial moments. On some throws he was inaccurate. On others he incorrectly read the defense and tried to squeeze in throws that simply weren't there.

Clausen is not the reason Notre Dame lost this game. A defense that struggled to make tackles in the open field all year long failed in doing so yet again. However, with opportunities to seal this game throughout the fourth quarter and overtime, Clausen was rendered a virtual non-factor -- and that shouldn't happen for a player viewed by scouts as the most NFL-ready passer in the country.

Posted on: November 16, 2009 12:46 pm

Even at #14, Stanford remains underrated

Many outside of the Pac-10 might have been surprised by Stanford's back to back wins over Oregon and USC. Those who have been paying attention to Jim Harbaugh's ascending program, however, weren't surprised at all.

Jim Harbaugh has characterized his redshirt freshman quarterback, Andrew Luck, as "the best quarterback in the country" and Luck's performance against the Ducks and Trojans (5 combined TDs, zero turnovers) serve as some evidence that Harbaugh's claim isn't as far off as one might think. The 6-4, 235 pound Luck, in fact, looks every bit the part of a future first round choice.

Unlike many of the past Pac-10 offenses, however, this offense isn't built around the passing game. This is an offense built around a punishing downhill rushing attack forged by Toby Gerhart and a stout offensive line. It is an offense that has scored a combined 106 points against the Ducks and Trojans, not because of gimmick or trickery, but fundmantally sound play up front and a brand of physicality most wouldn't associate with Stanford.

The defense, though rarely given much credit for Stanford's success, has been the very definition of a bend, but don't break unit. The senior-laden unit is stout at the point of attack, protecting a lack of elite athleticism throughout much of the back seven.

At 7-3, the Cardinals remain a game behind Oregon in the Pac-10 standings. They face explosive offenses in their final two games (California, Notre Dame), but with tough games also on the docket for Oregon, Oregon State and Arizona (the other teams contending for the Pac-10 crown), Stanford remains in the Rose Bowl hunt... and I believe this team, on a neutral field, would beat Ohio State.

Posted on: October 3, 2009 4:53 pm

Jake Locker, Jimmy Clausen good, not great so far

With unsettling performances from many of the highly ranked senior and junior quarterbacks ranked ahead of them, two passers NFL scouts have become increasingly intrigued by this year are Washington and Notre Dame juniors Jake Locker and Jimmy Clausen, respectively.

Locker's athleticism, toughness and potential as a passer have drawn comparisons to Tim Tebow. In reality, he is a further along as a passer than Tebow and has a stronger, more accurate arm with a quicker release. This fact has led some to project him as highly as a potential #1 overall candidate for the 2010 draft, should he elect to come out early.

The poise and accuracy Locker showed in the stunning upset over USC significantly increased his national attention, but scouts have been well aware of his ability for years. He remains an unfinished product, however, who too often resorts to running rather than exhausting all of his passing options.

Against Notre Dame thus far, Locker has been accurate on the short to intermediate passes, but still too often is either throwing to his first read or tucking the ball. He has the prerequisite arm strength to zip passes into tight coverage and the touch and trajectory for the deep ball. He hasn't been helped by repeated drops from UW receivers and a porous offensive line. There is no denying his first round tools. At this point, however, scouts tell me they still view him as a second round pick, as he is at least a year or more away from contributing in a pro-style offense against NFL caliber defenses.

Classen, on the other hand, is significantly further along in his development as a passer. Of course, this is to be expected after serving for three years under Charlie Weis. Classen understands the offense, making the proper adjustments at the line of scrimmage and has the accuracy to hit receivers in stride. He also spreads the ball around the field beautifully.

Like former ND star Brady Quinn, however, Classen's lack of dominant arm strength makes him a good, but not necessarily great prospect for the next level. Classen relies on his accuracy and understanding of the offense to attack, but he's attempted some dangerous passes in the first half against Washington, attempting to squeeze passes into tight holes in the secondary, such as on a 2nd quarter pass into the endzone that the Huskies should have picked off.

Their national hype may lead some to believe Locker and Classen are certain top ten prospects. In reality, while each has tools to work with -- and quite different tools at that -- both are potential gems that still require a great deal of polish...
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