This is going to be Pete Carroll's team, but it's not going to be USC. Mock drafts will start plugging in prominent USC talent in the wake of his hire. Carroll is not a bonehead. He's decidedly not dogmatic. He won't simply draft his team from USC. Carroll will target the recruits that got away and that starts with Jimmy Clausen.
Steve Sarkisian recruited Clausen, hard. And who didn't? He was Matthew Stafford West. Clausen had it all: Performance, pedigree, tools, talent and the endorsement of quarterback guru Steve Clarkson. Clarkson started working with Clausen in seventh grade. His pupils include Matt Leinart and Matt Cassel (among others). Clarkson, as successful as one can be in his business, with little to prove and less to gain through hyperbole, spared no praise of Clausen:
"If there were a LeBron James for football, it would be Jimmy Clausen," said Clarkson, who has tutored nearly 20 quarterbacks who have been drafted or have played in the NFL. "He's truly a freak. It's ridiculous."
King Clausen signed with Notre Dame. Leinart was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals. Carroll has searched for his replacement ever since. The Trojans won two titles with Leinart and competed for another. USC hasn't contended for a title since. 43-9 is a decent stretch for a top tier program, but a step down for USC. Carroll lost only two games in Leinart's three seasons.
Clausen is the one that got away. Instead of drifting through easy success at USC, he took the hard path: playing catch up for the consistently talent poor Fighting Irish. Let's forego the scouting report just yet. Like any young quarterback, opinions about Clausen range from damning to sanctifying. He is the top quarterback prospect in his class and he will most likely be available at six.
Mike Shanahan signed with Washington and has thrown his support behind Jason Campbell. That's not too surprising. Campbell is similar to Jay Cutler: Tall, cannon armed and athletic. And Shanahan has had success with suspect quarterbacks: Jake Plummer and Brian Griese. He even squeezed a winning record out of 24 year old Steve Beuerlein. There's time for the relationship to sour, but even then, it would be a bold reversal if Shanahan selected a quarterback at five. I imagine a middle round insurance pick is more Shanny's style. Someone he can crush into dust and reshape in his own, diabolical image.
The Rams select Suh. He's the D'Brickashaw, Keyshawn, Orlando can't miss prospect of the draft. Detroit, Kansas City and Tampa Bay are set or stuck with their current quarterback. Clausen slips to six and Pete Carroll rights his wrong, or wrongs his right. We'll see. It's not certain, but it sure makes sense.