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The Panthers missed out on the buzz of Day One with no first-round pick, but they made up for it with their top selection Friday, setting off a thunderous reaction from the crowd in Radio City Music Hall.
Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen — a quarterback who some bright football minds think is the best in the entire draft — fell to Carolina with the 48th overall pick. Clausen is considered to be NFL-ready after playing in a pro-style offense under the guidance of Charlie Weis at Notre Dame, but the Panthers have said Matt Moore will be their starter under center in 2010.
Moore, however, is playing on a one-year deal. Carolina now has a long-term option in place and can hand the reins over to Clausen if it's not sold on Moore after 2010.
Clausen might have been disappointed with his surprisingly long wait before being picked, but he ends up in a good situation. He can refine his skills and work out the kinks for a year behind Moore and eventually will take over an offense that features a sturdy offensive line, one of the best running-back tandems in the league and an elite wide receiver.
Having pieces like OLT Jordan Gross, RBs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart and WR Steve Smith around him will give Clausen a big boost when his time comes. Now, the Panthers ought to fill a pressing need and find Clausen another young receiver.
For the most authoritative NFL draft news and free-agency analysis, visit ProFootballWeekly.com.