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Both Clausen and Tate go undrafted in the first round

Apr 22, 2010, 11:30 PM EDT

And so fall the Irish…

After months of speculation and endless debate between Mel Kiper and Todd McShay, Jimmy Clausen plummeted out of the first round of the NFL Draft. So too did his Biletnikoff Award-winning teammate Golden Tate, making two of the most prolific offensive players in college football, and two of Notre Dame’s best offensive weapons in a decade dropping out of the first 32 picks at Radio City Music Hall in New York.

For Clausen, the slip must have been agonizing. A candidate to go to St. Louis with the very first pick of the draft, he was looking at a potential $50 million guaranteed contract. Now the earliest Clausen looks to be selected is with the 34th pick. To compare, last year’s 34th pick, safety Patrick Chung, received a signing bonus of $2 million.

The slip of Clausen wasn’t completely out of the blue. Once Clause slid beyond the San Francisco 49ers at the 17th pick, there wasn’t a team with a glaring need at quarterback. Still, you’ve got to wonder what Clausen didn’t do to be considered worthy of a first round pick.

While many believed Clausen’s background in Charlie Weis’ pro-style offense would be an asset, it turned out to be a hindrance. Like Brady Quinn before him, NFL teams have downgraded a Notre Dame quarterback with a working knowledge of an advanced system and instead chosen to pick a player perceived to have a higher upside. In Quinn’s case, that quarterback was LSU’s JaMarcus Russell, who wowed teams with his size and raw tools, even though he played in a rudimentary offense. For Clausen, it was Bradford, who spent most of his senior season in a sling, and took most his snaps before then from the shotgun in a spread attack. Add in the perceived “character issues” that were touted for four straight months by talking heads like Todd McShay, and Clausen sits unpicked.

Tate’s drop into round two was a bit less surprising, but had similarities to Clausen’s. Even though Tate was recognized as the best wide receiver in college football, and showed a versatility and electricity with the ball in his hands like few others, two wide receivers with questionable production, but perceived upside went before him. Neither Demaryius Thomas, a lanky wide receiver from Georgia Tech with only 46 catches in Paul Johnson’s option offense, nor Dez Bryant, the mercurial Oklahoma State wide receiver that was suspended for the final nine games of the 2009 season for lying to the NCAA, produced close to the results of Tate, but both found themselves taken in the first 24 picks, question marks be damned.

When Clausen and Tate sat next to the recently fired Weis to announce their decision to forgo their final year of eligibilty, it was unlikely either saw even a possibility that they’d be unpicked at the end of the first round four and a half months later. Now they’ll likely be two of the best values of the second round, playing with a contract worth millions less than they originally hoped for. For two Notre Dame students that gave up a final year on the field and in the classroom, it was a costly final class in economics. 

  1. mrrandolph - Apr 23, 2010 at 7:17 AM

    Jimmy’s record and the off-field issues and the arrogance of his personality (real or not) contributed to the fall. He should have stayed in school instead of getting mad that the team got their coach fired. After hearing about and reading about the leadership skills of Tebow, do you think if he was the ND QB the team would have finished 6-6?

  2. Shazamrock - Apr 23, 2010 at 8:02 AM

    Too much is made out of a guy’s draft stock and where and when he gets drafted.
    Joe Montana and Tom Brady are prime examples, getting drafted in the third and sixth rounds. The both won multipul Super Bowls and are in (or will be in) the Hall of Fame. By the end of their careers they each will have made plenty of money not only from football, but endorsments as well.

  3. TLNDMA - Apr 23, 2010 at 9:00 AM

    It makes you wonder what you have to do on the field to show these NFL types that you can play the game. A QB with 28 td passes and only 4ints., all of which came due to WR mistakes or game situations. A wide reciever with incredible hands, good speed, and an with an ability to make people miss after the catch, that is second to none.
    I have to wonder if they had both come back for one more year, what kind of crazy numbers they would have put up in the new offense. Do you think Brian Kelly would have found a way to get Golden Tate the ball in space in as many ways as he possibly could?
    Oh well, we’ll never know.

  4. Bill K - Apr 23, 2010 at 11:47 AM

    I believe that Mr. Clausen is academically a senior. He was on track to graduate this May, although I’m not sure if he sat out this semester to prepare for the draft. So while he may be giving up a year of football, he is not given up anything in the classroom.

  5. ugetwutuask4 - Apr 23, 2010 at 1:21 PM

    Before the draft I made a statement that I knew for a fact that the NFL wouldn’t have anywhere near 32 teams whose bosses and owners would be foolish enough to pass up on Jimmy in the first round. Well they proved me wrong, I guess I can count on both hands teams stupid enough to pass on Jimmy. Even the most average of football fans can see that these teams had a glaring need at QB. First off I’ll start with the Denver Broncos for drafting the great Tebowski ahead of Jimmy. I hope he does well, how can you not root for a great character guy like Tebow but my opinion is he wouldn’t be able to hold Jimmy’s joc strap if you compare “apples to apples” and “oranges to oranges” when looking at each individuals highlight reel. Then you have Oakland, Jimmy is a California guy if I’m not mistaken, right? Oh, I forgot Al Davis best days are behind him, the game has past him by. Another California team, the 49ers who you figure would have been the perfect fit for Jimmy and would probably have been serious contenders in their division with Jimmy as their QB and the offensive weapons they have would make perfect sense. But they put all their eggs in the Alex Smith basket. What about Cleveland Browns or how about the Seahawks whose QB’s days are numbered already and if I’m not mistaken passed twice an Jimmy? Even the Vikings whose age old QB is holding the team hostage and could have had some success with a legend being able to help Jimmy learn how to lead an NFL franchise and deal with adversity? O.k. I get it, a lot of these teams knew that he would drop out of the first round and they’d have a shot at him in the second round, for second round money but you mean to tell me all these teams including Arizona who could’ve used a QB also and I forgot to mention are willing to pass on a future NFL Pro-Bowler like Jimmy? Since when did Matt Leinhert build up such a huge following with so many believers? I guess there’s more incompitent owners out their than we thought.

  6. Sgt. Moon - Apr 23, 2010 at 6:28 PM

    I really believe that there is no such thing as a “draft bust”. I think that the people that rate these players are the real losers. People such as Mel Kiper, Todd McShay and the general managers in the NFL tend to rate players too high or not high enough.
    Year after year we see players taken in the early rounds who don’t live up to the hype that these so called experts call “can’t miss” prospects. And we often see players taken in the later rounds who become pro bowl players and hall of famers.
    Maybe it’s the experts that are the real busts. Not the players.

  7. mikeford - Apr 23, 2010 at 7:31 PM

    When I watched Jon Gruden’s Interview / QB breakdown that he did with Jimmy I was takin back by the way Jimmy took any sort of criticism. He had a real hard time looking Gruden in the eyes when asked about a couple bone headed plays and to me seemed very arrogant and even a little obnoxious about some of the criticism dealt to him. I’m wondering if this was also on display during team interviews? Now I’m positive this post will not be received with rave reviews …..Only my opinion

  8. mrrandolph - Apr 24, 2010 at 8:56 AM

    If he was willing to answer Gruden’s criticisms with arrogance with the cameras rolling, then imagine what a response would be in private interviews. But, with that being said, Jimmy seems to have landed in a good offense with 2 good RBs and if he performs, he’ll make up some of the money the freefall cost him.

  9. borromini - Apr 24, 2010 at 2:05 PM

    I saw the Gruden/Clausen interview and couldn’t disagree more about how Jimmy came across. I personally saw no evidence of arrogance…thought he handled himself well considering Gruden railed him for a play from 2008. Guess he couldn’t find video from the 2009 season to slam Jimmy with.
    As for those who felt he should have stayed one more year…nonsense.
    Spending his last year trying to learn Kelly’s spread offense would have done more harm than good. He’s now going to get a shot with Carolina…a team that has an offensive playbook very similar to what he already knows well.

  10. TLNDMA - Apr 24, 2010 at 7:12 PM

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I took Clausen’s reaction to Gruden to be embarrassment.

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