Commentary

Behind the Big Board: Clausen's rise

Mel explains the rise of Jimmy Clausen and fall of Carlos Dunlap

Updated: December 3, 2009, 12:39 AM ET
By Mel Kiper Jr. | ESPN.com

Behind the Big Board accompanies the release of every Mel Kiper Jr. Big Board leading up to the 2010 NFL draft, explaining why players moved up and down the rankings and other hot topics associated with the Board.

Think of the two quarterbacks who went in the top 10 of last year's draft and what they have dealt with thus far as rookies.

Matthew Stafford got off to a tough start but has shown flashes of the brilliance we know will be a bigger part of the future for a quarterback who is still just 21 years old, but he still has had those disastrous games -- the kind that lead to a TD-INT ratio of 12-18.

• Then there's Mark Sanchez, who got off to an auspicious start but has seen defenses adjust and has struggled in the same manner as Stafford, with a TD-INT ratio of 10-17.

This is a league that saw Peyton Manning toss 28 interceptions as a rookie. There's a serious learning curve involved. Adversity isn't a headache -- adversity is the standard.

[+] EnlargeJimmy Clausen
Bob Stanton/Icon SMIJimmy Clausen has been steadily improving every year.

It's also a big reason why Jimmy Clausen has continued to trend upward on my Big Board and why he jumps to No. 4 this week.


To read about the rise of Jimmy Clausen, the fall of Carlos Dunlap, and Mel's take on Aaron Hernandez, you must be an ESPN Insider.

Mel Kiper Jr.

Football analyst