The NFL Draft is a the ultimate event for hot takes: an occasion on which thousands of people with very little expertise act like they know more than professional organizations about something they have analyzed for months on end.
And back in 2010, all the stars aligned for a beautiful deluge of cold takes.
You had Jimmy Clausen, a tall pocket-passing quarterback who had been a three-year starter at the most glamorous of schools, Notre Dame. You had a rumor mill that had some people believing he was a candidate to go No. 1 overall. And you had a league full of teams simply not that impressed by him.
The most notable Clausen-lover was ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr., who ranked the quarterback as the fourth best player in the draft and touted him as a future star. Via the Charlotte Observer:
“The reason I like him is because he’s tough, he’s gritty and he competes,” Kiper told the Observer on a conference call with reporters this week. “He’s 6-2 1/2, 220, which is ideal size. He doesn’t have a howitzer for an arm, but it’s good enough – it’s more than good enough.”>
In the lead-up to the draft, Kiper made a bold promise, as chronicled for Awful Announcing by Jimmy Traina.
Kiper: “If Jimmy Clausen is not a successful quarterback in the NFL, I’m done. That’s it. I’m out.”
McShay: “What is your time frame, Mel? When do we make that assessment?”
Kiper: “I want eight years.”
The pick was seven years ago, so Kiper’s time is running short.
We shouldn’t pick on Kiper, however, because plenty of others agreed with him. When Clausen eventually went No. 48 overall to the Carolina Panthers, praise rained in.
Panthers finally have a QB in Clausen. I love that pick
— Pete Prisco (@PriscoCBS) April 24, 2010
I trust what I see with my own two eyes, and the Carolina Panthers just committed highway robbery. #Clausen was the best QB in the draft.
— Aaron Torres (@Aaron_Torres) April 23, 2010
I love, love, love this pick for Carolina. Jimmy Clausen. Man, teams are going to be sorry…
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 23, 2010
I love the Clausen pick by the #Panthers. Wow
— Jeff Capellini (@JCapWFAN) April 23, 2010
Wow! Clausen goes to Panthers and that is a strong pick. They have some weapons now have a QB that is talented with the intangibles.
— Steve Braun (@1stevebraun) April 23, 2010
Clausen here makes sense. Talent on that offense, he can win, and win quickly. great spot for him
— Jason McIntyre (@jasonrmcintyre) April 23, 2010
RT @BigA2417: Give me a teaser about what your going to say on the panthers … Best pick of the draft: Clausen.
— Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) April 25, 2010
A college sophomore named Draymond Green was among the biggest supporters of the pick.
I don't understand how Jimmy Clausen was in the conversation to be the # 1 overall Draft pick n he is still on the board in mid 2nd round
— Draymond Green (@Money23Green) April 23, 2010
Of course, Clausen did not turn into an NFL star. He made only 14 starts in a four-year NFL career, completing a mere 54 percent of his passes and throwing twice as many interceptions (14) as touchdowns (7). His win-loss record as a starter was 1-13.
There is one more person who needs to be called out for an incorrect prediction here.
Clausen himself was asked shortly after the draft what he told Panthers when they picked him. And by his own account, he said to Carolina, “I just want to tell you that you guys made the best pick in the draft.”