Sean Clifford’s Experience, Track Record Make Him Late-Round Hopeful In 2023 NFL Draft

Since 2019, Sean Clifford has been Penn State’s starting quarterback. Now, he’s finally moving to the next level.

Hailing from Cincinnati, Ohio, Clifford was a four-star prospect and was ranked as the No. 8-best quarterback in the 2017 class. He had offers from Auburn, Akron, Boston College, and Cincinnati, but ultimately picked to play ball in Happy Valley.

Over his four years as QB1, Clifford had his share of ups and downs. During his first season, he was named All-Big Ten honorable mention by the coaches and media, throwing for 2,654 yards and 23 touchdowns. He also helped lead the Nittany Lions to an 11-2 record with a win in the Cotton Bowl over Memphis.

The COVID-19-ridden 2020 season saw Clifford and Co. lose five straight games to begin the year. The Nittany Lions would rally back and win four straight and the COVID-19-shortened season 4-5, but many questioned whether Clifford was the guy that could take Penn State all the way.

At the start of his redshirt senior season, it looked like all things were leaning in the right direction for Clifford. Penn State started the year 5-0 was ranked No. 4 in the AP Top 25 Poll, with wins Over ranked opponents in Wisconsin and Auburn. Things weren’t so great against Iowa, though, when Clifford was injured early in the second quarter. He did not return to that game, seemingly played injured the rest of the season, and the team lost six of its last eight games to go 7-6.

Clifford returned for the 2022 season thanks to COVID-19 giving him an extra year of eligibility. Clifford, in was arguably his best season, led Penn State to an 11-2 season with a Rose Bowl win over Utah to cap off his collegiate career. Also during this season, Clifford set the program’s all-time records for passing yards, passing touchdowns, and completion percentage.

Despite the endless arguments about Clifford from fans, he’s undoubtedly one of the best quarterbacks in school history. But, experts believe it could be a long shot for Clifford to make it in the NFL.

One area of improvement is his passing accuracy. Throughout his time at Penn State, Clifford was not the most accurate passer, and it caused many missed opportunities on plays over the years. Also, his arm isn’t the strongest, and that’s a big issue for NFL teams.

The other huge issue with Clifford is age. The quarterback is currently 24 and will be 25 when the new season begins, which is older than some current starting quarterbacks in the NFL.

While he may lack many things an NFL quarterback needs to succeed, he makes up for it in many different ways. His ability to extend plays is one of the things that stood out during his time in Happy Valley. Clifford can move very well for his size and is able to rush for yards when needed, and his release of the football is very quick. He’s also a signal-caller who limits mistakes, which is a valuable skill to have.

Despite his collegiate success, he could struggle to make it in the NFL. Many experts agree and have the quarterback projected as a late-round to undrafted free agent come April.

Wherever Clifford ends up, he will have to fight for a job during this upcoming training camp. However, he will forever be a Penn State legend with school records and a legacy many will attempt to top.

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About the Author

Matt Brown

Matt is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism and minoring in sports studies from Bensalem, Pa. Matt is a huge Philadelphia sports fan and an overall sports fan in general. When not watching sports, you'll find him taking down any Dollar Dog challenge or rewatching the Big Ten Maps Commercial. To reach him, follow him on Twitter and Instagram: @matt_brown63, or email him at [email protected].

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