Rookie QB Jimmy Clausen took a beating leading up to the draft, but not for reasons related to his physical attributes, toughness or love of the game. The questions about Clausen had to with his ability to command an NFL locker room — evaluators described him as an arrogant, immature player with a sense of entitlement that would not sit well with veteran teammates.
The negative publicity was damaging. While scouts pegged him as a first-round talent, Clausen fell to the Panthers in the second round. Teams drafting early in the first round did their homework on Clausen, but they opted to pass, and Carolina was happy to snag him with the 48th overall pick.
Speculation that he would challenge incumbent Matt Moore for a starting job in training camp has mostly died down since the spring. He's been taking reps as the third-string quarterback behind Moore and second-year player Hunter Cantwell and doesn't appear to be a threat to Moore at this time. In fact, he'll need a strong showing in camp to unseat Cantwell as Moore's top backup.
Clausen is only a few days into his first camp, but signs of the supposed me-first attitude have not shown up, observers say. We're told Clausen is well aware he's being watched closely and he's unlikely to do anything that feeds the "selfish" perception that's been attached to him. Observers say he's been very accurate with his throws throughout the offseason and has shown good mobility.
Moore went 4-1 as the team's starter last season, though, and was tendered at the highest level possible when he became a restricted free agent. The Panthers said he was the starter before they drafted Clausen, and the job is his this season unless he plays his way out of it. Clausen could do a lot of watching and learning in Year One, but Moore is playing on a one-year deal. Clausen recently signed a four-year contract.
There could be some major changes after the season for the Panthers, as head coach John Fox is in the final year of his contract. Carolina just underwent a major change when Jake Delhomme, who had been a starter since 2002, was released this offseason and Moore officially took command of the starting job. Another change at quarterback — late this season or next offseason — is quite possible.
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