If the opportunity presents itself on April 22nd, the Jacksonville Jaguars should run to the podium with Jimmy Clausen's name on their card. While at the moment it seems rather unlikely that Clausen will fall all the way to pick number 10, this draft is very similar to last season when quarterback Mark Sanchez nearly fell into the Jaguars lap.
As we all know, the Jacksonville Jaguars have done everything short of absolutely nothing to address the quarterback position since they drafted Byron Leftwich in the first roundof the 2003 draft. Since 2003 the Jaguars have drafted exactly 0 quarterbacks in any round and are currently the longest tenured team to do so. Even teams like the Colts and the Patriots who have two of the best quarterbacks in the NFL have drafted quarterbacks, as early as the 3rd round (Kevin O'Connell, Patriots, 2008). While the Jaguars have not been in position often to address the position in the first round of the draft, they have been in position in later rounds to so and have ignored the position.
While it's unlikely the Jaguars would have found a franchise quarterback in the latter rounds, it does need to be mentioned that the position has been ignored for far too long. Regardless of how you feel about David Garrard, it's pretty obvious the Jaguars need to start planning for the future. Personally, I feel the Jaguars erred big time in 2007 when Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn fell into their lap, twice, and the Jaguars decided to pass on him. Now let me be clear, I didn't like Brady Quinn then and I still don't like him now, but it still needs to be mentioned that in the midst of a quarterback controversy the Jaguars had a potential franchise quarterback fall in their lap and ignored it.
Would things be different today had they drafted Brady Quinn?
Doubtful, but you get the point.
There is an outside shot that Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen could slip to pick number 10 later this month, and I feel it would be a mistake for the Jaguars to let a quarterback get past them again. It looked like last year Mark Sanchez would fall to the Jaguars, but the New York Jets leap frogged them and got their quarterback of the future. The Jaguars courted Sanchez much like they're doing Jimmy Clausennow. Many will argue the Jaguars are doing it to draw interest for another team to trade up, but I contend that their interest is genuine andreal. There is word around the building that the front office is not pleased with current quarterback David Garrard, nor should they be. Not to mention the slew of back handed compliments that have been let loose by General Manager Gene Smith, head coach Jack Del Rio, and even owner Wayne Weaver has made some comments about Garrard's preparation.
Many will argue taking a quarterback in the Top 10 will put too much of a financial burden on the Jaguars, given that David Garrard is due roughly $8 million in salary in 2010, but let's be real here. If Jimmy Clausen is drafted 10th overall by the Jaguars, it's highly unlikely David Garrard remains on the roster. That is, unless Garrard agrees to take a massive paycut. Some will say it will be in the Jaguars best interest to keep Garrard on the roster even-so, so that Clausen has a veteran to sit behind and learn from however, how good of a role model can David Garrard be?
I don't want this to sound like a bashfest of David Garrard, but let's be honest. Do you want your rookie quarterback learning how to prepare from a quarterback who was publicly called out by his owner as not doing enough in the offseason? Do you want your rookie quarterback back under the tutelage of a guy who admitted to the Florida Times Union he does not watch enough film and doesn't know what the defense is doing before he snaps the football?
The Jaguars have gone long enough without addressing the quarterback position, and regardless of how you feel about the pro-potential of Jimmy Clausen; I feel it will be in the best interest of the franchise to call his name if he makes it to the 10th pick. First of all, Clausen gives you a young gun who can compete for a starting job right away. Second, it will sell tickets. Sure, Jimmy Clausen isn't the savior that Tim Tebow is touted to be, but drafting a quarterback 10th overall is going to move some tickets, regardless of who it is. Next, it gives Jack Del Rio and Gene Smith more of a sense of security. Despite how you might feel about Jack Del Rio as a coach, I personally don't mind him, drafting a quarterback in the first round extends his life as the head coach of the Jaguars. It will also finally give him a quarterback that he wanted.
I'll detail why I feel Jimmy Clausen would be a good pick in another story later this week.