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Draft Hangover

Saturday, Brady Quinn became only the second Notre Dame quarterback in modern history to be taken in the first round of the NFL draft. And he had, by far, the greatest climb from recruit status to draft day status of any his "peer quarterback recruits." Here are the recruiting rankings from 2003 and 2002 from Scout (not pay info):

2003
1 John David Booty

6-3/200/4.60 Committed to USC
2 Kyle Wright

6-4/200/4.60 Committed to Miami (Fl)
3 Chris Leak

6-0/210/4.60 Committed to Florida
4 JaMarcus Russell

6-5/220/4.70 Committed to LSU
5 Tommy Grady

6-6/210/4.90 Committed to Oklahoma
6 Robert Lane

6-3/225/4.50 Committed to Mississippi
7 Justin Midgett

6-4/200/4.70 Committed to Florida
8 Dennis Dixon

6-4/177/4.50 Committed to Oregon
9 Omarr Conner

6-1/205/4.50 Committed to Mississippi State
10 T.C. Ostrander

6-2/185/4.60 Committed to Stanford
11 Bill Foran

6-3/210/4.53 Committed to Purdue
12 Richard Kovalcheck

6-3/215/4.70 Committed to Arizona
13 Clayton Richard

6-5/228/4.70 Committed to Michigan
14 Brady Quinn

6-4/205/4.65 Committed to Notre Dame

2002

Trent Edwards

6-4/185/4.80 Committed to Stanford
3 Ben Olson

6-5/205/4.65 Committed to BYU
4 Reggie McNeal I

6-2/190/4.40 Committed to Texas A&M
5 Gavin Dickey

6-0/188/4.50 Committed to Florida
6 Marcus Vick

6-0/180/4.50 Committed to Virginia Tech
7 James Banks

6-3/190/4.50 Tennessee, Florida, Michigan, Purdue, Notre Dame
8 Tyler Palko

6-2/215/4.60 Committed to Pittsburgh
9 Isaiah Stanback

6-3/190/4.40 Committed to Washington
10 Brandon Cox

6-2/190/4.80 Committed to Auburn
11 Matt Moore

6-4/190 Committed to UCLA
12 Matt Gutierrez

6-4/210/4.82 Committed to Michigan
And here's where they went in this year's draft:


JaMarcus RussellQBLSU11(1)Oakland
Brady QuinnQBNOTRE DAME122(22)Cleveland
Kevin KolbQBHOUSTON24(36)Philadelphia
John BeckQBBYU28(40)Miami
Drew StantonQBMICHIGAN STATE211(43)Detroit
Trent EdwardsQBSTANFORD329(92)Buffalo
Isaiah StanbackQBWASHINGTON44(103)Dallas
Jeff RoweQBNEVADA514(151)Cincinnati
Troy SmithQBOHIO STATE537(174)Baltimore
Jordan PalmerQBUTEP631(205)Washington
Tyler ThigpenQBCOAST CAROLINA77(217)Minnesota

Quinn is one of only two first round quarterback picks this year and ask yourself: who are some of those other guys? Well, they didn't play in on NBC every week, so many of them are just not known out of their own regions and a lot of them, with good coaching, could have been right with Quinn. Trent Edwards 'could have, should have' been a first round pick, but he never got the coaching. Leak was the Parade and USA Today POY.

There was drama on Saturday, but I found it hard to get excited. As I wrote before, Quinn's legacy won't be made in the draft, it will be made on the field. The only draft hangover that will follow him five years from now will be that he was a first round pick out of Notre Dame and one of only two first round picks in 2007. The selection at 22 cost him a lot of money, but he also locked up endorsements with Hummer, EAS, Nike, Subway and Sprint before the draft ever happened. He's also THE story of the draft. That's the spotlight and while it's obviously benefited Quinn a great deal, it also magnifies any missteps.

I think there were a few factors working against Quinn this draft. There weren't many teams looking for a QB this year and the teams that were looking felt there was good QB value in the second and third rounds. Now this is where Quinn's performance against Ohio State, Michigan, USC and LSU hurt him, rightly or wrongly. If those performances raised any question marks for a team, then it appears the thinking was "we can get close to that with Stanton, Beck or Edwards without paying the high price." So the teams that wanted a QB were willing to wait and most teams weren't looking this year. Perception really hurts when you're dropping 40 million on a quarterback.

Despite the draft drama, Quinn is a huge success story and if he becomes Tom Brady II, none of this will matter a wit. And I applaud Weis for his consistent support. He backs up his promises and fights for his kids, which is exactly what I expected of him.

THE story as far as Notre Dame is concerned is that it now looks like our entire secondary from last year will now be drafted by the NFL and three out of four of our defensive linemen. I believe Wooden and Zibby will both be picks next year as will Laws. So, with Laws, Landri, Abiamiri, Nedu, Richardson, Zibby and Wooden all likely having NFL careers... how did we stink so bad?

Add in the fact that Frome was signed by the Bears and my head itches.

Here's a rundown of who went where:

Abiamiri, VictorDE6-5271257Philadelphia
Harris, RyanOT6-5299370Denver
Landri, DerekDT6-22775166Jacksonville
McKnight, RhemaWR6-2212


Morton, BobG6-3303


Ndukwe, NeduSS6-12067253Cincinnati
Quinn, BradyQB6-3226122Cleveland
Richardson, MikeCB5-111896202New England
Samardzija, JeffWR6-4218


Santucci, DanG6-32967230Cincinnati
Walker, Darius


Walker and Frome signed with da Bears. McKnight with the Saints and Freeman with the Ravens.

BTW, if there's one big take home from all of this, it's that high recruiting status has a very low correlation with high draft status.

Most of these top kids won't make it.

It was amazing to see how many good athletes were slipping out of the draft altogether.

I'm excited for Quinn to be playing in Cleveland and really couldn't give a damn about Saturday drama. I've never been the least bit interested in the Browns, now I'll be following them closely.

Excuse me while I put on my Nikes, get in my Hummer to go pick up a Subway sandwich before I go quaff my EAS supplements (uh, thought it was EA Sports - I'm in the game.)

~ The Rock

The Final Word on Quinn Spin

First off, bashing Quinn is not only mostly a knee-jerk anti- Notre Dame response, it's also a great way for writers/talking heads to get attention for themselves. Don't expect it to stop. There was a lot of built up resentment about the attention Quinn was getting pre-season and that has colored most of the views on Quinn.

But the arguments are mostly ill-thought out and lacking in any real analysis.

First, Quinn didn't struggle in big games. He was fantastic against Penn State which most considered the biggest early game on the Irish schedule. Quinn won the Georgia Tech game and led the two big comebacks against Michigan State and UCLA (which looked like a weak win until they knocked of USC.) He completely outplayed the Heisman Trophy winner in the biggest game of the Weis era and engineered what should have been the winning drive.

He also looked at the top of this game early against LSU. Replay it. Dropped passes and penalties are the only things that stopped the Irish early on. LSU was able to get the Irish back on their heels and Quinn sustained a knee injury and he was ineffective later in the game, but no quarterback would have been effective under those circumstances.

Here's the real headline: Quinn didn't have great games against defenses that dominated Notre Dame's offensive line and played tight on our receivers. That's really a duh, point. By this same 'bash' thought process JaMarcus Russell struggled in 'big games' against Florida and Auburn... in fact, he pretty much lost the Florida game early on. Troy Smith looked abominable when he was pressured and forced to play without Ginn. Same has been said of Manning.

Now, JarMarcus Russell looked very good against Notre Dame, but... he didn't throw for the highest number of yards this year, he didn't put up the highest passing efficiency rating nor did he throw for the highest number of touchdowns against Notre Dame's defense.

Reality check. Most top offenses, especially those with a lot of weapons, looked very good against Notre Dame's defense. Purdue's never been able to replicate their second half against ND against another team (Quinn was outstanding in the first half of that game.) There's a reason Minter was let go this year.

And the thing is, as Tim Brown points out, Pro quarterbacks play in a timing system, just like Quinn did. Russell's performance against Notre Dame is in no way representative of what he'll face in the NFL, his performance against Florida and Auburn was. Russell's big, but that's not going to matter as much, he's not that mobile and he's not going to have the time to sit back and throw strikes to receivers running open.

Having a big arm is nice, but not the top factor in quarterback success. You just have to be able to make all the throws. It does open the available window a crack if you can jam the ball in there, but Quinn's got a gun and can do that. Zibby and Jeff S. both had stronger arms than Quinn, but they weren't playing quarterback for a reason. No one has any clue on Russell. He can make the throws when he has the time, but so can a gazillion quarterbacks. Drew Brees can make them too, but the trick is he also does it within an NFL offense.

And I really don't get this Russell has a higher ceiling argument. Exactly where does that perceived 'higher ceiling' manifest itself? The key isn't size or arm strength, it's playmaking ability. That's what separates the top quarterbacks and there's a fair argument that Quinn's performance in the clutch against Michigan State, UCLA, and USC from last year, showed a higher ceiling for that 'separation quality' than Russell has. I haven't seen Russell do this.

Now, I like Russell as a QB and personally, I don't care which Quarterback goes higher, but the Quinn bashing gets distorted by those who really want Quinn to fail and can get some air time or column space. There are some valid criticisms, but they get lost in the clamor.

Here's the delicious irony: they've (the Quinn Spin group) made him more popular and a bigger name than if they just ignored him. In the quest to harpoon Quinn, they've given him an exponentially large platform proving his endorsement worth and making him rich long before the draft and Quinn has shined in the spotlight . In other words, all of that hard work to tear Quinn down has made him so much bigger than he would have been to this point and actually created a undercurrent of support for him.

If they spent their time lauding Russell instead, it would have had the opposite affect. They didn't and I'm not sure they could have. So Quinn's face time soared in relation to Russell.

I didn't say they were bright.

Thankfully, we can move on after Sunday.

~ The Rock

Spring Game Revelations

According to unofficial counts, beers drunk at Mike Frank's tailgate outnumbered scoring in the Blue-Gold game by a 50-1 ratio... and beers drunk at said tailgate outnumbered total offensive yards by a 4-1 margin.

That's about as much insight as anyone gets out of the spring game (though it sounded like a grand ole time.)

You can't tell much because the game is a scrimmage with non-real life rules. In the real world, quarterbacks don't go down by touch, you don't know the other side's play calls (okay, that was true under Ty,) second teamers don't get to play second teamers and offenses aren't restricted to vanilla with a swirl, but all that doesn't mean you can't enjoy Lou in action.

Love Charlie; still miss Lou.

It also doesn't mean everyone won't try to make something out of not so much -- here's ESPN on Clausen. The kid's been in campus for less than four months and hasn't even gone to his prom yet, so if he's anywhere on the same plane as the guys who've been there for awhile, that's encouraging.

Junior Jabbie by all accounts looked very good. Not to detract from an excellent performance, but he was going against the second team defense -- you really can't tell much on a relative basis in a spring game. Remember, Travis Thomas was also a Spring Game MVP -- as was Joe Thomas.

Exactly.

Without further BS about a game I only saw highlights from, here are observations from NDNation:

Who looked good? Jabbie did. It was a defensive day. But I was pretty drunk do I don't know...

MLibert

Two years ago, there were a couple of things I observed about Brady Quinn that made me feel that he's improve a lot.

The first was his stance behind center. He no longer was in the take-a-dump stance behind center, indicating that the days of high school caliber quarterback coaching were over.

The second was correction of his mechanics on short passes. Quinn had showed toughness and a good arm during his first two seasons, but he consistently missed receivers on swing passes because he didn't set his feet and square his shoulders properly before throwing short touch passes. You'd think his prior coaches would have corrected that problem because short passes are so important to that alleged west coast offense (alleged offense of any kind) they were running. Weis fixed it in less than 20 practices.

After that spring game, I thought Quinn would have a much improved season.

Other than that, I've never been able to tell a damned thing from the spring game. Has an offensive line improved, or is the defensive front bad? Is the secondary better, or are the receivers unable to get open? Are the coached keeping their intentions in check, or is ND going to be a running team? Is the team sloppy, or are guys shuttling into and out of the line-up so much that continuity is impossible?

Kayo


I'll never likely be sitting in those seats--for real games, but my thoughts--from behind the Home Bench are these:

1. Ara is a treasure. I think he simply enjoyed being amidst it all--and chatting with the visitors. He still moves fairly well for a guy who's 80-ish...and has the new hip(from back in the 80's).
2. Joe Yonto--God Bless him, looked very thin and frail. He's not the "piss-n-vinegar" Yonto I remember from 1976-1980...but then, who is. I'm glad he was there.
3. I sat with Joe Restic--P/FS from '75-'79(...an old player/manager student relationship from the '70's)--for a while. Joe is 50. He is one damn chiseled guy. I doubt he's gained a pound of fat or lost a pound of muscle in 30-years(unlike me).
4. Chris Zorich...still looks like he could kick some O-Lineman's ass.
5. Ross Browner...despite the cane and the cast on the foot--at about 52, looks great! He was constantly coaching/talking with all the D-Linemen. His Son--who was by his Dad's side all afternoon...with the old #89 Green Machine jersey(...I hear is only 14)is as big(or slightly bigger)than his Dad!
6. Charlie's brief appearance on this "home" sideline...he chewed-ass when the players were lazy, and standing too close to the sidelines. He kept the language "civil," but he was 100% into the game.
7. Finally...two of the Student Managers(and I was a former one) have good throwing arms, but the rest of them are really, really weak. Now, they have girls out there. Jesus, Mary, & Joseph...what have we come to!?!?

IrishFarmBoy3

For me, I was encouraged by the D. Obviously, it's hard to make any truly objective claims, since we don't actually know how good the offense is, but it seemed like they were in position most of the time and were looking to make plays on the ball. Also, they seemed really excited just to be out there (i.e. Justin Brown was getting amped after he made a few good plays) which could be a reflection of Corwin Brown's effects. It seems to me that defense is heavily emotional, and if our defense can get up like that for a scrimmage, I see good things when they are staring down sparty or whoever else.

Discouraging- Special teams. It was good to see Burkhart make his attempts, but it's frustrating to see an extra point blocked and then missed on the ensuing mulligan. I hope we can remedy that by the fall.

LondonDomer

I just got back from ND, and the day couldn't have been more beautiful. It was my 9 year old son's first trip to SB, and I think it is safe to say he will be an ND fan for life. On to the game:

It is clear to me that most people are inappropriately focused on the QB postion battle when the real issue is with the OL. Pass protection sucked in a big way. I wish I could say that this was due to some spring game rule or player mix, but it is the same problem that we have seen for the past few years. This year, we will not have BQ to bail us out from paying the price for this deficiency. The BG program sold at the game clearly highlights the reason for the problem. The lack of seniors on offense is astounding, and the thin numbers of juniors as well. The OL is the spot where a team is most likely to feel an impact from this, and it showed today. True, we have some very promising young OL's, but they are simply not ready at this point. No matter who is QB, it is going to be a long year offensively.
With that said, I had the following observations:
1) Clausen is the best QB, hands down. The others all looked to have nice potential, but it really didn't look very close. Clausen is amazingly polished for just being a HS senior.
2) We are loaded at RB, and I did think our run blocking was better than it has been for a long time. While Jabbie had the big day, I thought Aldridge looked the best, and both were ahead of TT who might want to think about that LB postion again. Armando Allen is going to be special, and provides the break away threat we have been missing. Schwaap was a beast, and looks fully recovered from his injury- any defense that tries to bring him down high will be giving us 5 yards extra.
3) Receivers were absolutely horrible. Dropped passes from multiple players, sloppy routes, and no breakaway potential that I could see. This may have been affected by the limited play calling schemes, but I think we are going to miss the Shark & Mcknight (& I am still missing MoStovall) almost as much as Quinn. The saving grace is that Carlson still looks like the best TE we have had since Bavarro and that is saying something.
4) Our secondary is VASTLY improved across the board. Every reciever had a shadow all day long. Receivers were being jammed up at the line of scrimmage, and the talent at both cb and safety was impressive and deep.
5) Very nice DL pressure on the QB, but I really can't evaluate this since so much of it had to do with our weak OL protection in passing situations. A little too much overpursuit IMO, but a good improvement from last fall.

In summary, I think next year is going to a long one, but with a whole lot of promise. I expect a year like 1987, where we lost a lot of close games against great teams, but you could see the talent simmering. Obviously, we will be running a lot more this year, and we will not be scoring nearly as many points. Our D will definitely not be giving up as much either, so I expect closer and lower scoring games for the most part. Unfortunately, looking at the schedule along with the recruiting screwjob Willingham did to us, we will likely have to bide out ime this fall for 2008.

TMurph

Announced attendance = 51,000+ It was the biggest Spring game ever. The weather was beautiful.

Quarterbacks: Its hard to really evaluate, but I liked Sharpley the best. He seemed poised and ran the team well. He has a decent arm too. I would bet on him being one of the top two going into the fall.

Jones is a guy who seems like will make big plays for both us and the opponent. His interception was a horrible decision. His touchdown was very underthrown and Parris came back for it. That might have been intentional, but it might have been lucky. He had one long run where he showed his speed. He runs like a running back and is generally a live wire. While there is lots of exciting potential there, I'm thinking that he would be too volatile a player to lead such a young team.

Clausen was good but not head-and-shoulders above anyone. He was pretty much what you would expect. I thought he looked skinny and noticed him staring down his primary receiver.

Frazer was okay too. I didn't happen to see him as much. Nothing jumps out at me.

Jabbie was clearly the best running back today. After today, I would be very excited for him to be the starter. Schwapp also looked good. He was running very hard and was falling forward for that extra yard. All the other guys seemed good, but Jabbie was really shining.

Tight end will be a strength.

John Sullivan was injured.

Receiver competition is still probably pretty open.

The defense won today as usual, but it might have been closer had the quarterbacks not been wearing red jerseys. They were getting some pressure on the QB. Many plays were called down when it did not seem the QB would have been tackled, just touched.

Overall, guys were clowning around with excessive celebration when they scored - it was all in good fun.

Sorry I've got nothing more profound, just a few thoughts off the top of my head.

Br. Andre

and I'd agree with your assessment that Clausen looked good. Demetrius Jones showed some promise too, although he did throw the interception (from where I was sitting, it looked like it was off of the receiver's hands). My father-in-law, who(m?) I went to the game with, likened the Blue-Gold game to "kissing your sister", because "it doesn't go anywhere". Fair enough--it's hard to tell much from the limited set of plays they ran, but I'd say Jones and Clausen looked the best to me.
OL didn't play great (seemed like Justin Brown made an awful lot of plays), but they did set Junior Jabbie up for some big runs. It's hard to assess them because they essentially played the entire game. Don't know anything about Sullivan--looking forward to hearing more, and hoping it's just a bad cramp.
Also, as this is my first post, hello to all. I've lurked for several years, so I thought it was time to say hi and express my appreciation for the level of conversation on this board (most of the time).
Cheers!

irish sycamore

DD looked to me like he was ready to break out some runs from the pocket, but the 40 yarder was the only one he could get because of the quarterback rules. His delivery looks a little bit awkward and he underthrew his TD pass, but regardless, he'd be my pick to start against Georgia Tech.

Clausen looked decent. His ball placement may be the best amongst all the QB's.

To me, all of the RB's looked good. Jabbie was by far the best as he put together a lot of great runs.

Our defense will be a 180-degree turnaround next season. Its not that our DB's will get beat, its that we blitz so much that the quarterbacks have no time to throw.

NDTerp

RB's were the biggest positive today i think. Junior J ran very well. He looks like the best back by quite a bit. Aldridge ran very hard and hit some people pretty hard. However, Schwapp was really a hammer today. He knocked the wind out of Brockington on one play. ASchwapp looks like he's back and healthy and will be the perfect FB. AA is amazingly quick. When he was on the far side of the field i always though he got less yards then he did b/c it was so quick. He slips through the hole and gains six yards where others might have gained 3 or 4. TT was solid and looked like the most experienced back, but he didn't really wow me. I was kind of disappointed b/c he is one of my favorite players. Overall, JJ looked fantastic today. He reminded me a lot of the last JJ, J Jones. In the openfield he'd make some nifty moves to get five yards or so more. Right now you'd have to say he'd be the number one back with aldridge and allen stepping in periodically.

edit: i'm not trying to predict the starting line up, i'm just saying that JJ was amazing today and he has all the physical gifts to be a great back. 4.4 and much stronger than allen. knows the system and runs well in the open field.

frosh

First JC, Now Crist to Notre Dame

Question: Who's the one QB USC has offered so far this year? Answer: Dayne Crist

Question: Who's the one QB Michigan has offered so far this year? Answer: Dayne Crist

Question: Who's the one QB Florida State has offered so far this year? Answer: Dayne Crist

But the 6'5" 221 pound quarterback from Sherman Oaks (Calif.) Notre Dame has committed to ND according to the LA Times (he has a press conference tonight.) He was also offered by LSU among many others. Here's what USA Today had to say about him:

"Trailing 17-10 with 4:17 remaining, Crist orchestrated a nine-play, 85-yard drive after Notre Dame took over following a Canyon punt. He connected with receiver Mike Stanton on a 30-yard touchdown pass in the back left corner of the end zone.

Crist then rifled a laser to Stanton again on the two-point conversion, helping Notre Dame capture a 18-17 victory over Canyon, who was ranked as the No. 17 team in the nation by USA TODAY.

"He's got the potential to be special by the time he leaves here," Rooney said of the 6-foot-4, 210-pound pro-style QB. "If he does the things we expect him to, we expect him to be not only one of the best quarterbacks in California, but one of the best quarterbacks in the entire country."

"I'll compete against you in almost everything," he said. "No matter what it is, I want to be the best at it.""I'm going to do everything I can to help the team I pick get the top recruits," he said. "I want to win, and I want to win big. I wouldn't have it any other way."

On film, Crist screams prototype. He's got a big arm... on one play he's chased out of the pocket and with a defender on his knees Crist wrists the ball 40 yards downfield for a completion. He's accurate, seems very fluid and already has a college build.

If Charlie could put on his mad scientist hat and design a quarterback, he'd look a lot like Crist. All the sweeter that he was the top target of SC and Michigan.

Merrill Hoge Endorses Quinn

In that way that Lee Corso picks winners. I know, you're wondering who Merrill Hoge is. He's the c-level talking head who's convinced that verbal hair pulling is a strategy for career advancement. He also uttered these famous words last year:
"I wouldn't draft any of these quarterbacks (referring to Vince Young, Matt Leinart and Jay Cutler) in the first round" and "Kellen Clemens from Oregon, is better than Matt Leinart and Vince Young when you study them on tape."
Why is this news? Well, because he's after it again this year attacking Brady Quinn. Here's Hoge talking about Young last year:




Meanwhile, Quinn's draft slide that wasn't seems to have turned into positive momentum heading into draft day with most slotting Quinn at number two or three. Quinn has been playing his part perfectly, staying calm in the storm and marketing himself consistently. He stopped by Browns' headquarters this week.
Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn dressed in a light orange shirt for his visit to the Browns. If he gets his wish, he'll soon have a matching orange helmet.

Quinn, who grew up in Dublin, Ohio, has said he wants to play for the Browns, the team he rooted for as a kid. On Thursday, he spent a few hours touring the team's headquarters and interviewing with coaches.


Draft day is for dollars and I hope Quinn gets his and more, but selfishly I'm hoping he goes to a team that will allow him to have a long NFL career. No one remembers draft day by game six of the season, except in a negative way (why did we draft that bum there,) but it's fine sport in the off-season.

BTW, kudos to Charlie Weis for handling the current quarterback situation. His deft planning seems to have diffused most of the build-up around the search for Brady's replacement.