Before the 2006 NFL Draft, Ron Jaworski, the once hyperintelligent analyst turned Monday Night Football yelling machine, ranked the four top quarterbacks in the draft as such:
1. Matt Leinart
2. Kellen Clemens
3. Vince Young
4. Jay Cutler
It might seem scary that the Jets are counting on Clemens to save their season this Sunday, but, seriously, there was a time he wasn’t considered a simple backup. A recent time.
In fact, back in February, Football Outsiders was calling for the Jets to ignore the draft and just declare Clemens the starter. (Registration required to access the full article.)
Research into college quarterbacks conducted by our David Lewin has shown that the only two factors that matter when judging college quarterbacks selected in the first two rounds of the NFL draft are completion percentage and games started. Clemens completed 61 percent of the passes he threw at Oregon and started 32 games, numbers comparable to those of Eli Manning (60.8 completion percentage, 37 starts) and Drew Brees (61.1 completion percentage, 37 starts) on the high end and Patrick Ramsey (58.9 completion percentage, 32 starts) on the low end.
In the final year of his contract, the Jets should look at what they already have before they once more concern themselves with what they can get.
Well, that didn’t happen: The Jets drafted Mark Sanchez, and no one has any real complaints, save for maybe Clemens himself, who never has really been given the chance to truly prove himself in green. Considering this is the final year of Clemens’s contract, though, he’s in a position Sunday against Tampa Bay to help himself and his likely soon-to-be-former team. The Jets still have a tiny flicker of playoff hope — it doesn’t hurt that the Patriots are collapsing — and Clemens must hold down the fort against a weak Tampa Bay team. He can’t win his old job back. But he can secure himself a new one.