ESPN likes to play up the on-air friction between its two draft experts, Mel Kiper and Todd McShay, and a big source of that friction this year has centered on Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen, whom Kiper likes a lot more than McShay does.
Vinny Cerrato, the former Washington Redskins Executive VP of Football Operations, has weighed in on the dispute and said that based on his contacts at Notre Dame (where he worked in the 1980s), McShay is simply wrong in his assessment that Clausen lacks maturity and leadership skills.
“I think Todd McShay started that, you know?” Cerrato told Jason Reid of the Washington Post. “I’d like to know who Todd McShay talked to at Notre Dame about Jimmy. That’s what I would like to know, because I was at the school and talked to everybody.”
Cerrato says that if anyone at Notre Dame was questioning Clausen’s maturity, it was probably one of the older players who didn’t like the fact that Clausen came in with a great deal of fanfare as a freshman. According to Cerrato, people who saw Clausen progress at Notre Dame saw him grow into a leadership role.
“He’s a totally mature guy,” Cerrato said. “I mean, you know what he is? He’s a gym rat. He’s a football junkie. He loves to talk about football. He loves to watch film. He’s very smart about football coverages, all those things.”
It should be pointed out that Cerrato is close with Clausen’s agent, Gary Wichard, and Cerrato has been helping Wichard’s clients prepare for pre-draft interviews. That might lead some to say Cerrato wants to portray Clausen in the most favorable light possible, although it could also be seen as evidence that Cerrato has had a first-hand look at just how mature Clausen is.
Whatever the case, Cerrato is willing to stake his own reputation on Clausen’s maturity, while McShay is on the record as saying Clausen shouldn’t be a first-round pick. Clip and save this for future reference.