NFL draft: Jimmy Clausen has much to prove on the NFL level
By Jerry McDonald
The Oakland Tribune
In a way, Jimmy Clausen was a year ahead of his time.
He came out as a junior at Notre Dame, in part because of the threat of a rookie salary cap once a new collective bargaining agreement is in place.
Rumored to go as high as No. 6, Clausen fell hard to No. 48 before Carolina called.
Last year, the difference in guaranteed money between the No. 6 and No. 48 picks was more than $19 million. Cincinnati's Andre Smith got $21 million guaranteed after a protracted holdout, while Texas Tech safety Darcel McBath, taken by Denver at No. 48, received $2 million.
Figure Clausen for a guarantee in the $2 million range.
Had Clausen stayed another year at Notre Dame, he could have been drafted much earlier but possibly wouldn't have made any more money.
Meanwhile, Sam Bradford, whom draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. ranked behind Clausen, should become the last rookie player to become a multimillionaire despite never having set foot on an NFL field.
For the sake of comparison, Matt Stafford, last year's top pick by Detroit, received $41.7 million guaranteed. The Bradford negotiations are expected to open at $50 million.
"I love Sam Bradford and I hope he's a great, but he probably made $40 (million) to $45 million today," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters Thursday. "He hasn't even set foot on the field."
In the wake of the Ben Roethlisberger suspension, character is a buzzword among NFL teams.
So it comes as no surprise that Bradford, as well as Tim Tebow, taken 25th overall by Denver, are considered above reproach.
Fair or not, his reputation as a coddled star prep quarterback at Oaks Christian in Westlake Village, Calif., followed him to Notre Dame. He clashed with teammates initially, and even though he played hurt and produced in his junior season, he never was able to shake the label of being a spoiled brat.
Even the Chiefs, with former Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis as offensive coordinator, selected Dexter McCluster as a third running back with their second-round pick rather than Clausen as an eventual challenger to the less-than-overwhelming Matt Cassel.
"He's a first round talent, but the perception of him as a 'me first' kid pushed him out of the first round," NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said.
If Clausen goes on to a successful NFL career, he'll be more than adequately compensated. That's probably not of much comfort to him right now.
Jumping to more conclusions after Day 3 of the draft:
—Notre Dame quarterbacks can't catch a break. Brady Quinn, the top quarterback along with JaMarcus Russell in 2007, lasted until No. 22. He was traded to Denver in the offseason, only to have the Broncos trade up and take Tebow.
—Maybe it was out of sheer relief and being able to cash in before a rookie cap, but there were more first-round picks openly crying after being selected Thursday than at any time in memory.
—So much for all the drama and jockeying for position with the break between Round 1 and 2. A handful of backwards trades, and no one moving up to seize the Rams' spot leading off Day 2.
Not exactly the "additional first-round scenario" that had been forecast by execs and analysts.
—Cal defensive tackle Tyson Alualu has Rolando McClain to thank for being the No. 10 pick in the draft.
As near as anyone can tell, no one but the Jaguars had Alualu ranked that high. Most had him projected as a late first- or early second-round pick. Jacksonville also coveted McClain. When the Raiders took McClain at No. 8, Alualu cashed in at No. 10 with the Jaguars.
—Bruce Campbell lasting to the fourth round was a leaguewide statement against overestimating combine warriors, and a reminder the Raiders don't go for the biggest and fastest every time.
But getting Campbell in the fourth round? More than worth it.
—Anyone else find the comments of 49ers' safety Taylor Mays in reference to former USC coach Pete Carroll as strange? What possible reason would Carroll have to want Mays at less than his best going into the draft process?
—Stanford running back Toby Gerhart went 21 picks after Cal's Jahvid Best, but considering the offensive lines the Bay Area backs will play behind, Gerhart got the better deal.
—Colt McCoy was the last of the top four quarterbacks to be selected, in the third round, No. 85 overall, to Cleveland. The Browns are saying otherwise, but given their quarterback depth chart (Jake Delhomme, Seneca Wallace, Brent Ratliff), he may be starting before Tebow and Clausen.