NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Jimmy Clausen

Posted on February 1, 2010 by Matt Elder

Jimmy Clausen, QB (Notre Dame)

6,2, 223lbs


Jimmy Clausen came to Notre Dame like  folklore legend. He was the #1 recruit in the nation, spurning arch rival USC to choose Notre Dame. He even arrived in a limousine to his announcement conference. Needless to say he had the ego to fit in very well at South Bend.

He carries that swagger with him on the field and it’s something most teams want in a NFL quarterback. You can’t be afraid to make a mistake and it’s never been an issue for a supremely confident Clausen. He has the ability to easily shake off a bad throw or turnover for the next series and come out gunning.

Part of that is because of former head coach Charlie Weis instilled confidence him and part stems from his immeasurable will to win.

Clausen spent the past three years playing in a pro style offense at South Bend under Weis. He’s played plenty both under center and in the shotgun, has experience with three, five, and seven step drops. He also progresses through his reads very well in going from his primary reads and progressing to his second, third, and dump off options.

Clausen also possesses adequate arm strength to make all the throws and excels at throwing routes that are intermediate in length (10-20 yards). He can throw a very pretty post and seam route.


If Clausen has one big issue with his game it’s his performance in pressure packed games. This was an issue his entire collegiate career. Poor decisions early usually led to costly turnovers and he worked hard with Charlie Weiss to learn it was ok to throw the ball away. He showed improvement last year but still demonstrates too much a tendency to throw the ball up for grabs.

He got away with it at Notre Dame in large part to having All-American wide receiver Golden Tate, a talented Michael Floyd and tight end Kyle Rudolph. It won’t work in the NFL when facing defenses far better than the players that he saw in South Bend.

Another concern is he was on the losing stick of too many games in college, not accepting for a notorious program like Notre Dame, though the plethora of loses were anything but just his fault.

Lastly there’s a toe injury that required surgery just weeks ago. Clausen missed a game and time in others due to this turf toe injury on his lead foot. He’ll need to pass a battery of medical exams starting at the NFL combine and at his pro day.

How does he fit the Bills:

Buffalo struggled mightily with quarterback play in 2009 just as they have most of the past decade. Trent Edwards was an epic fail this past season and has likely seen his last snap in Buffalo. Ryan Fitzpatrick was what a backup should be, and mostly proved why he should not at any point be a long term starter. Youngster Brian Brohm got his first career start and showed a little promise for the future, but certainly not enough to rely on for 2010.

Clausen would likely come in and battled for a starting job from day one and if Edwards is still on the roster, it would take him all of warm ups of the first practice to show he is better.

Projection: Top 15 Pick.  After previously profiling a pair of tackles (Suh and McCoy) that aren’t realistic options, Clausen certainly is.  There’s a fair chance he’s on the board when Buffalo picks at nine and if they decide Clausen is their guy, he could be in Buffalo soon.


2007: 138 of 245 56.3%, 1254 Yards, 7 TD, 6 INT

2008: 268 of 440 60.9%, 3172 Yards, 25 TD, 17 INT

2009: 289 of 425 68.0%, 3722 Yards, 28 TD, 4 INT

Career: 695 of 1110 62.6%, 8148 Yards, 60 TD, 27 INT

Up Next: QB Sam Bradford, Oklahoma

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6 Comments on NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Jimmy Clausen

  1. Jeremy Pike

    I think he would be a great fit in Buffalo. He’s played in bad weather and behind a mediocre-to-bad offensive line. If he’s available at 9, I personally would be drafting him immediately.

  2. bill

    He is the best QB in the draft. I think the Rams will take him #1 but if he is on the board he should go to Buffalo without hesitation. That profile was a bit misleading - of all the high profile QB’s in the draft, Clausen is the only one with multiple fourth quarter comebacks under his belt. Weis said he didn’t miss a read all season and his stats reflect that. Plus the limo thing was a long time ago. Bottom line he is a Drew Brees type QB that gets dinged like Brees did for W/L in college that really don’t matter when assessing NFL talent. If that mattered then Tebow would go #1.

  3. Matt Elder

    Multiple 4th Quarter comebacks…I guess, but they were games they never should of had to come back in to begin with. The two games you are referring to are Purdue and Michigan State. In the Michigan State game he was great, but he has one of his worst games of the season v. Purdue.

  4. bill

    He had a bad game against Purdue because he was hurt and not supposed to play. He sat out most of the game and came in the last drive to march them down the field and score with time expiring. He also engineered a comeback against Michigan that his defense managed to quickly squander, and against Washington. The general take-away from ND’s season is that defense wins championships and thiers was one of the worst in the country.

  5. Matt Elder

    Without question Notre Dame’s defense was beyond bad, as Notre Dame fan myself I recognize that which is why I said not all of Notre Dame’s struggles are about Jimmy Clausen. However not all of the Notre Dame come back wins were because of Jimmy Clausen either, I think giving him all the credit is of a great diservice to a player like Golden Tate, who I will be profiling later on in this process.

  6. bill

    I agree with that comment. Tate had an oustanding year and definitely made his QB look good. But in fairness one of the reasons why Tate was so productive is because he was the only skill player that did not miss games during the season due to injury (vs. RB Allen, WR Floyd, and TE Rudolph). That allowed them to develop a great ryhthm and gave Tate more looks to make great plays. Luckily for Clausen there is a lot of wide receiver talent in the NFL.

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