Panthers Select Clausen as Francise QB

The Panthers tried to trade up in the 2010 NFL Draft and make a run at Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen. It turns out, their failed efforts led to a significant success. Clausen fell to Carolina at No. 48 overall, giving the Panthers the franchise QB they coveted.

Carolina entered the draft with two pressing needs: quarterback and wide receiver. And with Jimmy Clausen and Colt McCoy inexplicably still in the board at No. 48, it seemed obvious which direction Marty Hurney would go.

The Panthers opted for Clausen, the prolific passer from Notre Dame who last season completed 68 percent of his passes for 3,722 yards, 28 touchdowns and just four interceptions. His ability to protect the ball will be welcomed in Carolina, where Jake Delhomme's penchant for untimely turnovers was a reason for his release.

Clausen is one of the most polarizing players in this year's draft class. Those in the pro-Clausen camp site his uncanny accuracy and ability to lead his team from behind time and time again. On the other side of the debate, there are critics who questions his leadership and maturity.

Regardless, Clausen was a steal at No. 48. He will take the No. 2 spot on the depth chart behind Matt Moore, who went 4-1 as a starter last year yet remains an unproven and unheralded commodity.

If Moore can't maintain his impressive win-loss margin, Clausen will be at the ready.

Clausen couldn't have asked for a better landing spot, going to a team with a dynamic running game and -- when healthy -- a powerful offensive line. He will be given every chance to succeed and win back the money he lost by falling so far on draft day.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this selection is that it figures to pay may long-term dividends than short term. That's important because Coach John Fox is entering the final season of his contract and may not return unless the Panthers are successful in 2010.

But, in the end, Clausen's unexpected availability at No. 48 was too good to pass up.

Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a long-time contributor to the network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports.

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