Panthers nab a QB|Draft Clausen in the second round

Published 12:35 pm Saturday, April 24, 2010

By By BARRY WILNER, AP Football Writer
NEW YORK — Some big stars came out for the second round of the NFL draft, in front of a nearly full Radio City Music Hall.
Unfortunately, Jim Brown, Dan Marino, Ray Lewis and Floyd Little were announcing the selections, not being picked.
Instead of Heisman Trophy winners and All-Americans, the opening choices of Friday night’s second round were Indiana tackle Rodger Saffold, Virginia cornerback Chris Cook, and UCLA defensive tackle Brian Price. Yes, quality players, but hardly headline makers.
Until Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen went to Carolina at No. 48 overall — more than 40 picks lower than some projected — few of the early selections drew much response from the surprisingly large audience. Then again, with the way the NFL has turned the first prime-time draft into an event, seeing the venerable theater packed makes sense.
Carolina also traded for an extra third-round pick on Friday to take Appalachian State’s Armanti Edwards with the 89th pick. The Panthers gave up next year’s second-round pick to New England to take the undersized quarterback, who led the Mountaineers to a monumental upset over Michigan and two FCS national titles.
It was part of a wild draft night for the Panthers, who also took Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen with the 48th pick and LSU receiver Brandon LaFell 78th overall.
Needing a blocker for quarterback Sam Bradford, the first overall pick the previous night, the Rams ignored several trade offers to stay put. They went for an experienced player who started for four seasons with the Hoosiers.
‘‘Oh man, it was a long night,’’ Saffold said. ‘‘Your heart’s racing the entire time and I’m just glad St. Louis called. I didn’t know how much longer I could have taken it.’’
The Rams fielded plenty of bids for the pick.
‘‘We would have had to move significantly back in the second round,’’ general manager Billy Devaney said, ‘‘and what we were going to get we didn’t think it was worth passing up a lineman that we deemed had this much talent.’’
Minnesota, which traded out of the first round, has had injury issues at cornerback, so Cook should be helpful. And Tampa Bay’s defensive line has been a sieve, which it addressed with the selections of Oklahoma’s Gerald McCoy at No. 3 overall and then Price.
Clausen, a three-year starter for the Fighting Irish under Charlie Weis, was 16-18 as a starter after being one of the nation’s most sought recruits. The Panthers’ choice drew scattered boos, but with Jake Delhomme gone and Matt Moore the incumbent, Carolina seems a good landing spot.
‘‘I think it’s going to help me tremendously, being in coach Weis’ system,’’ Clausen said of the offense run by John Fox in Carolina. ‘‘Coach Fox told me he said it was the same exact system I’ve played in the last three years. I’m really excited about that.’’
NFL draft consultant Gil Brandt noted that Clausen brought his team from behind four times to win — and brought his team from behind four times and lost.
‘‘He’s an excellent football player, but he doesn’t have great arm strength. That’s all right though,’’ Brandt said.
Clausen, the first Notre Damer chosen this year, kicked off a spurt of more recognizable selections — and three All-Americans. The first Southern Cal player, safety Taylor Mays, went to San Francisco, followed by Alabama cornerback-kick returner Javier Arenas to Kansas City, and Stanford RB Toby Gerhart, the Heisman runner-up, to the Vikings.
Minnesota, which did not select Thursday night, traded up 11 spots in the second round for Gerhart, also a top baseball prospect. The Vikings needed a backup to star runner Adrian Peterson after losing Chester Taylor in free agency.
‘‘I’m there to complement the best running back in the league, Adrian Peterson,’’ Gerhart said. ‘‘It’s amazing. I remember when I first started college, Adrian Peterson was the man in college. I remember saying I want to emulate my game after him.’’
Wideout Golden Tate, Clausen’s college teammate, went 60th overall to Seattle. Perhaps new Seahawks coach Pete Carroll was swayed by Tate’s outstanding performance against his USC Trojans last year.
Texas QB Colt McCoy finally was drafted, 85th overall, by Cleveland. That was one slot after his favorite target with the Longhorns, Jordan Shipley, went to Cincinnati.
On hand to make the announcement about his four-year starter and the winningest QB in NCAA history: Texas coach Mack Brown.
Other notables on Day 2: Kansas City got a prime kick returner and receiving threat in 5-foot-8, 165-pound Dexter McCluster of Mississippi; Alabama’s 350-pound All-American defensive tackle, Terrence Cody, went to Baltimore; and Cincinnati selected Florida linebacker Carlos Dunlap, who was arrested for DUI in December. The Bengals have a history of bringing in players with off-field issues.
‘‘That was the only incident on my record,’’ Dunlap said. ‘‘Pretty much, I told them that was my first and last incident. I learned from it. I apologized to everyone.’’
South Florida safety Nate Allen was taken by Philadelphia with the second-rounder the Eagles got from Washington for Donovan McNabb.
Oregon safety T.J. Ward went to Cleveland, a selection announced by the Browns’ greatest player, Jim Brown. The Hall of Famer got far more cheers than anyone Thursday night.
Next on the applause meter were Lewis, Marino and Little. Marino introduced the Dolphins’ selection of linebacker Koa Misi of Utah, Lewis announced LB Sergio Kindle of Texas and Little revealed that Denver took tackle Zane Beadles, also of Utah.
One player on hand was Arizona tight end Rob Gronkowski, who went 42nd overall to New England. The Patriots have a sparse group at the position.
‘‘I know coach Bill Belichick is one the greatest coaches out there,’’ Gronkowski said, ‘‘and I know Tom Brady is one of the best quarterbacks out there, and he will be flinging me the ball.’’
Gronkowski didn’t waste his time waiting around to be chosen.
‘‘We went to the Empire State Building,’’ he said. ‘‘We went to the very top where it’s not even open to the public and, man, it’s windy, cold up there. You’re in the clouds and everything. It’s scary looking down, but it’s a fun time.’’
Just part of the show.