Adding Clausen, Pike makes Panthers' QB spot crowded, competitive

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- So much for the idea that Matt Moore had an unquestioned hold on the Carolina Panthers' starting quarterback job.

A franchise that has been reluctant to use any pick -- let alone a high one -- on a quarterback under general manager Marty Hurney and coach John Fox took Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft on Friday. The Panthers then drafted Cincinnati quarterback Tony Pike with one of their four sixth-round selections Saturday.

The additions of Clausen and Pike not only add depth at the position, but both rookies could push Moore for playing time sooner rather than later.

"It certainly had nothing to do with Matt and Hunter (Cantwell)," Hurney said Saturday after the draft. "You can't say enough about how strongly we feel about those two guys. We just got into a draft where surprisingly ... we got to the second round and the sixth round where the board just dictated that, 'Hey, this is the pick. This is the best player to take.'"

Taking Clausen was the highlight of the weekend for the Panthers, who didn't have a first-round pick yet saw a player projected as a high first-rounder slide to them at No. 48. But the selection of Pike, who led Cincinnati to the Sugar Bowl last season, most bucked tradition.

Consider, the Panthers had picked just two quarterbacks in eight drafts under Hurney and Fox: fifth-rounder Randy Fasani out of Stanford in 2002 and fourth-rounder Stefan LeFors out of Louisville in 2005. Fasani threw 44 passes for the Panthers, and LeFors never even had an attempt.

Moore is a former undrafted free agent with just eight career starts, though he led the Panthers to a 4-1 finish last season after taking over as the starter for an injured Jake Delhomme. The Panthers later cut Delhomme and didn't re-sign Josh McCown and A.J. Feeley, leaving just Moore and Cantwell -- a rookie free agent who didn't play a down.

Fox said drafting Clausen was "a slam dunk" once he slid, and Hurney added that the Panthers rated Pike significantly higher than a sixth-rounder.

"I'm a firm believer that competition in positions brings the best out of guys," Fox said, "and we've definitely got that going on. ... We're just trying to improve our football team in areas where we think we need some depth and we need some competition."

Pike sounded excited by the opportunity to compete at a now-crowded spot.

"Nothing's ever given to you, and as a quarterback, it's not the most popular guy, but the guy that's going to come in and work," Pike said. "Whether it's Matt Moore or Hunter Cantwell or Jimmy Clausen or myself, it's going to be a good competition."

Carolina also addressed pressing needs at receiver by picking both LSU's Brandon LaFell and Appalachian State's Armanti Edwards in the third round, then grabbing Baylor's David Gettis in the sixth.

The Panthers hope the 6-foot-2, 206-pound LaFell, a big and physical receiver, can fill the No. 2 spot opposite Steve Smith and block downfield for running backs De'Angelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. Edwards was a college quarterback who's a projected receiver and returner, and Hurney said Gettis (6-3, 217) has size and big-play ability.

"It's a great opportunity," LaFell said at a news conference with Edwards on Saturday. "At the same time, you can't just throw me in front of the guys that's already here. I've got to go through minicamp. I've got to go through training camp and I've got to prove myself."

Carolina also bolstered its defense with South Carolina linebacker Eric Norwood (fourth round), Mississippi defensive end Greg Hardy (sixth), Texas A&M defensive back Jordan Pugh (sixth), Utah defensive back R.J. Stanford (seventh) and Connecticut defensive back Robert McClain (seventh).

Norwood and Hardy might replace some of the pass rush lost when Julius Peppers left for the Chicago Bears in free agency. Norwood set the school record for career sacks and was an Associated Press first-team All-American last season, and Fox said the former Gamecock could play defensive end or linebacker.

Hardy is a 6-4, 280-pound end who has been hampered by injuries. Last year, he sprained an ankle that limited his effectiveness before suffering a broken left wrist that required surgery in November.

"I'm excellent right now," Hardy said. "You know, it's always devastating for a career when you have a couple of injuries here and there. It's just one of the things you've got to play through."

The Panthers took Norwood with the 124th overall pick after trading down 12 spots in a deal with the New York Jets in exchange for the sixth-rounder they used on Gettis.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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