There’s already speculation that the last-place Carolina Panthers will take Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck with the first overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.
Luck is considered to be an extremely strong prospect and could have the same impact on the Panthers that Sam Bradford had on the St. Louis Rams this year.
There’s just one problem. Carolina took quarterback Jimmy Clausen in the second round, 48th overall, in the 2010 draft.
Clausen has been a colossal disappointment during his first year with the Panthers, but in fairness, Carolina hasn’t provided him with much to work with. Still, quarterbacks are usually given at least two or three years to develop and teams almost never give up on them before their first season is over.
But maybe this isn’t so much an indictment of Clausen as it is praise for Luck. Quarterbacks taken in the second round, as Clausen was, are not usually expected to be franchise saviors. And although Clausen was expected to be a top-10 pick, he’s not being paid like a franchise player.
So if the Panthers feel that Luck is indeed the right man to turn their team around, they should go ahead and take him. Clausen has very little trade value now, but there may still be a team willing to part with a third-round choice for him. And if not, he can sit on the bench for a couple years until maybe he’s ready to be a starter elsewhere.
It would be folly for the Panthers to pass on a mega-prospect just because they took someone at the same position last year. This wouldn’t even be a discussion if Clausen and Luck played wide receiver, but there’s a special stigma attached to young quarterbacks. Luckily for the Panthers, they only wasted a second-round choice on Clausen last year and won’t be crippled by a mulligan. And who knows, maybe all they need is a little Luck.
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