With the trade of Donovan McNabb to the Redskins, the likelihood of Jimmy Clausen becoming available at the 10th spot is becoming greater. In my personal opinion if Jimmy Clausen is available with the 10th selection, then Jaguars need to draft him and here is why:
Current QB Situation: The Jaguars current quarterbacks for the Jaguars are currently only David Garrard and Luke McCown. David Garrard is a good quarterback, I have always liked him and even during the past two seasons when things have not always been picture perfect (See Zoltan’s article on Black and Teal for more on the defense of David Garrard). The fact of the matter is though that David Garrard is 32 years old and facing a make or break season along with Jack Del Rio.
Garrard had an amazing 2007 season with 18 TD’s and only 3 picks but has since had two underwhelming years. Obviously these past two years have not been all his fault considering the Jaguars have had an injured and young OL and up until this past season the Jaguars have had a dismal receiving unit. Nonetheless Garrard has not been unable to recapture the magic of the 2007 season and unless something changes this season, whether it’s his fault or not, he will likely be gone as the starting QB.
Looking at Luke McCown I see a mirror of the 2004-06 David Garrard. McCown is young and has occasionally gotten some starts in his short career, but McCown like Garrard lacks the potential to be an elite or star QB in this league. McCown is a capable back-up and has the ability to play quality minutes, but is nothing more than a game managing QB. I like having McCown as a back-up, but not as a serious starting QB unless he shows drastic improvement from his days in Tampa.
Jimmy Clausen: His stat line is impressive with 8,148 passing yards, 60 TD’s and 27 INT’s in his career at Notre Dame. Clausen is one of few college QBs who has significant skills as a pocket QB, unlike Tebow and LeFevour. Standing at 6’2” and weighing 223 lbs, Clausen has an impressive array of physical abilities, including a good arm and impressive accuracy, which make him an ideal starting NFL QB. He lacks the ability to work outside the pocket and does not have the same scrambling ability that we see in David Garrard or Big Ben. He also not much of a vocal leader which is what is needed from a starting QB at the professional level. Overall though Clausen has the tools to become a great QB and though unpolished, if he is given the right situation he might be able to become a long term fixture for any NFL team.
Why the Jaguars need Clausen: The chance of Clausen dropping to the Jaguars is still slim. Sitting in front of the Jaguars are the Raiders and Bills. Al Davis loves big name or fast prospects (see McFadden and Heyward-Bey) and Clausen fits that bill perfectly. The Bills have a desperate need at the QB position with Trent Edwards and Ryan Fitzpatrick as their potential starters and Clausen would finally give them a quality QB. There is a chance though that Clausen drops to the Jaguars at 10.
Should the Jaguars take him? Yes. Now Zoltan wrote an amazing article over at Black and Teal that makes a great case for not drafting Clausen and I agree with a lot of his points but I guess I just have a difference of opinion. The Jaguars cannot afford to wait another season to draft a quarterback, plain and simple. Garrard, as stated above, is a good QB but he is going to be 33 this year and after two seasons of being one of most sacked QBs in the NFL, has taken a lot more wear and tear then most.
Clausen offers great potential for the future. Garrard is pretty much set as our 2010 starter, even if the Jaguars draft Clausen, I can’t see David losing his job unless he has a complete meltdown. If drafted, Clausen would most likely (barring an injury to Garrard) have an entire season to watch and learn behind Garrard, with the potential to get some minutes here and there, i.e. Carson Palmer. This would do a lot of good for Clausen who would not have to worry about being thrown into the thick of things right off the start, such as if the Bills or Raiders drafted him. Clausen would give the Jaguars a quality young QB for the future, who unlike most of Jacksonville’s previous QBs, has a chance to become an elite QB in this league.
The drafting of Clausen would also would fit perfectly to Gene Smith’s BAP strategy, considering most have him as a top 5 pick in their mock drafts. I do not support drafting a QB next year if necessary for a few reasons. Even with the strong QB crop next year, the chances of Jacksonville being in line to draft one of these QB’s is a coin flip based on this season’s performance. If the Jaguars have a strong season, then they will have a late first round selection, Garrard will most likely stay the starting QB and we will be most likely be again drafting a QB to be Garrard’s back-up for a season and the future of the team (The Jaguars would probably be drafting the third or fourth best QB too based on the late selection). Obviously that is the ideal scenario.
If the Jaguars have a terrible season though (which I can’t see happening with this talent level) then the Jaguars will most likely have a new head coach who will cut or bench Garrard and try to find a new QB in the draft. I have always been opposed to drafting a QB and having them take over the starting job on Day 1. It has worked out recently with Ryan, Flacco, and Sanchez (well depending on what part of the season it was) but overall starting a rookie QB has been inconsistent, where sometimes it works amazing and sometimes it fails miserably. Drafting a QB to be your Day 1 starter too also places a lot of pressure on the player. The player, every fan and coach knows that they want the rookie to become the starter even if a veteran QB starts the first few games. That is a lot of pressure for a rookie to know that he has only a short period of time before he is supposed to become the future of the franchise. That pressure is half the reason why some starting, rookie QBs make it and others don’t. If you give a rookie a season to learn and adapt, it will pay off in the long run in my opinion.
If the Jaguars have Clausen available then I say draft him. This allows the Jaguars to avoid having to rush next year and select a QB who most likely will have tons of pressure to be the new starting QB, instead Clausen would have a lot less pressure on him with Garrard already in place. Overall in my opinion drafting Clausen would be a perfect scenario for the Jaguars.