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Notre Dame Football: Irish QBs at the NFL Combine

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Jarious Jackson had the best performance of a Notre Dame quarterback at the Combine. Read on to find out why.

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NCAA Football - 2007 AllState Sugar Bowl - Notre Dame vs LSU Photo by A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images

DeShone Kizer is just the fourth Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback to be invited to the NFL Combine since 2000.

The Combine represents a unique opportunity to prove your value to all 32 NFL teams simultaneously, but it’s rarely worked out that way for Kizer’s three predecessors: Jarious Jackson, Brady Quinn and Jimmy Clausen.

JACKSON HAD MOST TO PROVE

Jarious Jackson Getty Images

Jarious Jackson was one of 21 quarterbacks invited to the 2000 NFL Combine, which featured such talent as Marshall’s Chad Pennington, West Virginia’s Marc Bulger and some guy named Tom Brady of the Michigan Wolverines.

“They are looking for guys like Steve McNair and Steve Young,” Jackson told the Associated Press. “All those quarterbacks can do the same thing: When the pocket breaks down, they have enough quickness and speed about them to get outside the pocket, move around and make big plays. I feel like I’m able to do some of the same type of things that they do. That’s why I’m here.”

Scouts said Jackson “threw surprisingly well” during the Combine workouts, and he was eventually drafted in the seventh round by the Denver Broncos. Besides the throwing portion, Jackson ran the 40-yard dash in 4.68 seconds and jumped 9 feet, 1 inch in the broad jump. (Brady did the dash in 5.28 seconds and turned in a 8 foot, 3 inch broad jump.)

The Broncos ended up using Jackson exclusively as a quarterback, although the Tupelo, Miss. product said before the Combine that he was open to a position switch.

“If they don’t like me (as a quarterback), I’d be more than happy to try someplace else,” he told the AP. “But first I’d like for them to take a long look at me. I may not have all the things that they’re looking for as a quarterback, but I’m a hard worker. I’m a quick learner. And I can pick it up.”

QUINN QUESTIONED ABOUT SUBPAR PERFORMANCES

Purdue Boilermakers v Notre Dame Fighting Irish Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

If there was a red flag attached to Brady Quinn, draft analysts speculated it was his lack of “big-game” moments. Quinn threw five of his seven interceptions in the two of the three games Notre Dame lost in 2006 (Michigan and LSU) and he was a dismal 22-for-45 in the lopsided loss at the hands of the USC Trojans.

“To me, there’s just one issue with Brady Quinn,” the NFL Network’s Mike Mayock told the Philadelphia Daily News before the Combine. “That issue is a couple times a game, I run the tape back about eight times and say, ‘Why did he miss that throw?’ Every game, he misses a couple of wide-open receivers. In the NFL, the windows get smaller, not larger. So, there’s an accuracy issue.”

Quinn suffered a knee injury against Southern Cal - which required a draining of fluid at halftime - and ended up aggravating it in the Sugar Bowl loss to the LSU Tigers. He skipped the Senior Bowl on doctors’ advice and then opted not to throw at the Combine. His only participation was in the bench press, where he put up 225 pounds 24 times. (JaMarcus Russell, who went #1 overall, didn’t throw there either.)

Scouts from every NFL team did make it to Notre Dame’s pro day to watch Quinn perform three-, five- and seven-step drops.

“Really, he made more throws here than you’d think about making at the combine,” Vikings coach Brad Childress told the AP following the workout. “I think he threw about 60 balls here today and it takes a little bit of endurance to be able to do that and he did it pretty rapid fire succession.”

In his second pro day at Notre Dame, Quinn ran the 40-yard dash in 4.73 seconds and registered 36 inches on his vertical jump.

The Browns took Quinn with their second pick in the first round (#22 overall).

CLAUSEN’S TOE PROMPTS COMBINE NO-THROW

Connecticut v Notre Dame Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Jimmy Clausen’s bum right big toe required January surgery, so there was no chance he’d be ready to show off for scouts the following month at the 2010 NFL Combine.

Clausen had ample company, however. The Oklahoma SoonersSam Bradford and Texas LonghornsColt McCoy were both rehabbing shoulder injures, so they declined to the throw. So too did the Florida Gator’s Tim Tebow.

Clausen’s only splash at the Combine was when he registered the smallest hands out of all the participants. His Wonderlic score of 23 out of 50 was one point higher than Tebow’s, but below both Bradford (36) and McCoy (25).

Clausen ended up throwing for 16 of the 32 NFL teams at Notre Dame’s pro day that April, completing 57 of 59 passes. He did not run.

“I thought he made some nice throws,” Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell told the AP. “He really did a good job for himself in terms of the types of balls that he threw. He threw some deep corner routes; he threw some comebacks. It gives you an opportunity to see how the ball comes out.”

Mel Kiper, ESPN’s draft analyst, said teams that didn’t like Clausen before the draft could never seem to explain why.

“The maturity issues maybe were there when he came out of high school, but they’re not there and they haven’t been there of late,” Kiper told the AP. “He galvanized that team. He’s a great leader. His arm strength may not be John Elway-like, but it’s very good. It’s good enough,” he said.

Clausen ended up dropping to the second round, where he was picked by the Carolina Panthers (#48 overall).

Notre Dame QBs at the NFL Combine, 2000-present

Year Round Player Position Height (in) Weight Hands (in) Arm length (in) Wonderlic 40 Yrd Dash (sec) Bench press (225 lbs reps) Vertical jump (in) Broad jump (in) 20-yard shuttle (sec) 3-cone drill (sec) 60-yd shuttle (sec) NFL.com grade
Year Round Player Position Height (in) Weight Hands (in) Arm length (in) Wonderlic 40 Yrd Dash (sec) Bench press (225 lbs reps) Vertical jump (in) Broad jump (in) 20-yard shuttle (sec) 3-cone drill (sec) 60-yd shuttle (sec) NFL.com grade
2017 DeShone Kizer QB 77 230 5.88
2010 2 Jimmy Clausen QB 74 222 9.000 30.750 23 DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP n/a
2007 1 Brady Quinn QB 75 232 29 DNP 24 DNP DNP DNP DNP n/a
2000 7 Jarious Jackson QB 73 226 18 4.68 DNP DNP 109 DNP DNP n/a