Clausen, not Tebow, the QB storyline

As it turned out, Jimmy Clausen slid all the way out of the first round, and the Vikings were content to give other teams a chance at him. After making a trade out of the first round, Clausen could still be one of the options the Vikings are considering early in the second round, or an option they hold as further trade bait. We review the predraft accomplishments of and analysis on Clausen.

Tim Tebow was the talk of the draft, but ultimately it was another quarterback that had the attention of Vikings fans on opening night of the 2010 NFL Draft.

Many draft analysts agreed that Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen is one of the top talents in the draft, but after 32 picks Clausen is still there and the Vikings still haven't made a pick.

Minnesota traded its 30th pick overall to NFC North rival Detroit in order to accumulate more picks because there were four players the Vikings liked and they saw the opportunity to move down only four spots.

In all likelihood, the Vikings had it well mapped out beforehand. If they really like Jimmy Clausen, they could figure on him being available with the pick they obtained from the Lions, the 34th pick overall.

Detroit, after picking Matthew Stafford first overall, wasn't going to take a quarterback and didn't. The Lions chose running back Jahvid Best. Next up was Indianapolis, whose quarterback position is set for years with superstar Peyton Manning. With the final pick in the first round, New Orleans wasn't about to take a quarterback to upset the Drew Brees bandwagon after he helped the Saints win the Super Bowl.

With Thursday night and most of the day Friday to think on it, the Vikings will likely have Clausen available to them with the second pick in the second round when the draft resumes at 5 p.m. Central on Friday. The Rams hold the first pick in the round, and they selected Sam Bradford with the first overall pick in the draft.

In order for Clausen to come off the board before the Vikings pick, the Rams would have to trade away that pick. Vikings vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman, of course, played coy when asked about Clausen.

"I don't know who we're going to take tomorrow. We've got a whole day to look at it again," he said.

"… I'll just say we have four players on top. I will not tell you any indication who those players are."

And he wouldn't say if a quarterback was among those positions, but it has become clear that the Vikings will add a quarterback at some point in the near future, either in the draft or shortly thereafter. In reality, they almost have to. The organization is well aware that Brett Favre isn't going to be attending organized team activities and they need more than just Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels under center during their spring practices.

Spielman said the Vikings started fielding calls for their pick at about No. 20, but …

"I don't know if it was because of Clausen. I don't know that. I just know the teams that were calling didn't take Clausen, I can tell you that. I can't tell you what other teams were thinking," he said.

The Vikings have the information they need to make a decision on Clausen. Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and Vikings scout Ryan Monnens attended Clausen's pro day earlier this month.

It wouldn't be surprising if the Vikings moved down one more time in the second round, and Spielman expects those talks to heat up Friday since the draft doesn't start again until 5 p.m. With his four targets still on the board, he would consider moving down a few more slots.

And Clausen might still be there.

The rap on Clausen has never been about talent. He was one of the top recruits coming out of high school and had an extremely productive college career at Notre Dame. He started 34 of 35 games after he replaced another Golden Domer that fell in the first round of the NFL draft, Brady Quinn.

In two seasons as a starter, Clausen completed 557 of 865 passes for 6,894 yards, 53 touchdowns and 21 interceptions, including 28 touchdowns in 2009 when he was a second-team All-America pick. He ranked second in the nation in passing efficiency (161.42 by the college rating) and fifth in completion percentage (68.0).

But the concern with Clausen is mainly with his attitude.

"Even though he's accurate on mid-range passes, he lacks overall placement and touch on deep throws. He doesn't feel backside pressure consistently, and when rushed up the middle, he will get himself in trouble by throwing off of his back foot," writes draft analyst Chris Steuber in his assessment of Clausen's weaknesses. "He's an emotional individual who has some maturity concerns and can be brash towards his coaches and teammates."

NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock had a similar sentiment of Clausen.

"From an on the field perspective, I think he can make every throw. I think he's got a big arm. I think he can drive the ball," Mayock said in a conference call with reporters in February. "My only issue on the field is sometimes, for instance in the USC game, I felt like he anticipated pressure that wasn't there in several instances and got rid of the football early. However, that's typical in a young quarterback. I think the bigger issues for him are convincing people that he's going to be a great leader. He's going to work his tail off and that all the intangibles are there for him to be the franchise face.

"But I can tell you right now, as far as just natural physical ability, he has it."

Whether that's enough for the Vikings to make a move with the second pick in the second round remains to be seen.

Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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