Whitehurst deal might put Clausen in free fall

When Pete Carroll and the Seahawks made the deal Wednesday to bring in Charlie Whitehurst from the Chargers, Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen went from a possibility at No. 6 to Seattle to a chance at free falling down the draft board come April.

Clausen will still have to show his value to pro scouts when he works out at the Irish pro day early next month, but regardless of what type of arm strength he shows on campus to the top of the NFL food chain, he could be a victim of how the draft plays out.

Washington and Mike Shanahan were hot names linked to Clausen, but if the Redskins want to start competing with the rest of the NFC East, it’s hard to see them passing on a talent like Okie State OT Russell Okung at No. 4. Too many holes up front in D.C.

Cleveland? I recently floated the idea of Mike Holmgren taking Clausen off the board at No. 7 — assuming he doesn’t move up to go after Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford — but with Seneca Wallace in town via trade and the two-year deal given to veteran Jake Delhomme, the Browns could go another route and pass on a QB. Florida CB Joe Haden comes to mind — and this is a team that will experience a roster overhaul from the new team president.

The obvious destination? Buffalo at No. 9. Can the Bills and new coach Chan Gailey compete with AFC East QBs Tom Brady, Mark Sanchez and Chad Henne with a training camp competition between Trent Edwards, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brian Brohm? That’s the question they have to ask themselves, but with a new head coach and a new offensive system, it wouldn’t surprise anyone to see Clausen come off the board here.

However, what if the Bills go with a player like Iowa OT Brian Bulaga? Is this another case of a Notre Dame QB — like Brady Quinn a few years ago — sitting for hours on draft day waiting to hear his name called?

Because after the Bills, we have to speculate about who might take Clausen. The Jaguars draft at No. 10, and depending on how you view David Garrard as the future of that franchise — or the Tim Tebow rumors later in the draft — Clausen could be a surprise pick here.

But after that, we have to really wonder how long it will take for him to come off the board. Arizona could have been a landing spot before the deal for Derek Anderson yesterday, and I have to believe that Clausen could fall all the way to Minnesota at No. 30 — regardless if Favre is back in 2010.

A complete free fall? Possible, if the Bills decide to go in a different direction since that’s where the draft will turn for Clausen. He’s a QB who played in a pro system, was productive and has the resume of a top-10 pick.

But when the draft turns and there’s a run on a certain position group, QBs start to slide out of control. And Clausen might be a victim of the drat-day system.

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