Sam Bradford surely will be off the board when Washington makes its first-round selection, but there is speculation the Redskins may select Notre Dame’s Jimmy Clausen with that fourth overall pick to be their quarterback of the future.
I would much rather take Oklahoma State left tackle Russell Okung to rebuild an aging offensive line. I think Okung is the far superior prospect to Clausen and has far less bust potential, but let’s examine how Clausen would fit in with Mike Shanahan’s offensive scheme.
Shanahan is as exceptional offensive mind. He gets a lot out of the quarterback position overall and has consistently generated a great deal from rushing attacks that do not feature a lot of expensive resources dedicated to the running back or offensive line positions. He also is a very adept playcaller and understands the value of a balanced attack.
Clausen has a lot going for him. Unlike many quarterback prospects, he comes from a pro-style offense and had the benefit of an NFL-caliber coach guiding him throughout his college career. He values the football and isn’t one to take a lot of unnecessary risks.
Clausen does a nice job of feeling pressure and executing play-action, a necessity with Shanahan. Clausen also processes information quickly and adeptly while displaying solid accuracy to all levels, also key components to excelling in Shanahan’s offense.
Physically, he isn’t overwhelming in any one area, but in the same respect, I don’t see him lacking in a particular department either. He has good size, a good arm and moves pretty well. To compare him to former Shanahan quarterbacks, he doesn’t move as well as Jake Plummer and probably isn’t as crafty. Clausen doesn’t have the overwhelming arm strength and physicality of Jay Cutler, but once again, he is pretty much in the middle of these two in terms of these skills.
His arm is more impressive than Plummer’s. He also seems to have the head for the game that Shanahan covets and could be effective on designed roll-outs, a staple of Shanahan’s passing attack. But again, he probably wouldn’t be exceptional with such play calls.
This assessment isn’t a real strong argument for or against Clausen as the next in line for Shanahan to groom, but that is the case with Clausen in just about any system. I don’t see him as an ideal fit in a deep downfield passing game like the one San Diego employs or in a pure West Coast attack, but he wouldn’t be a massive liability in either. But to use the fourth overall selection on a quarterback, I want a much stronger argument in the “For” column than I am presenting.
If it were up to me, I would select Okung and give Jason Campbell every opportunity to be the Redskins’ quarterback. Campbell may never be great, but he has been given a raw deal throughout his career to this point. The guidance and stability Shanahan should provide could really propel this former first-round pick’s career.