Clausen should heat up QB competition in Carolina

The Jimmy Clausen slide on Thursday and Friday night offered up the major drama of draft weekend, but once the Irish QB finally came off the board at No. 48 to the Panthers, was there reason to doubt that he can’t compete with — and eventually beat out — starter Matt Moore?

This was a luxury selection of sorts for Carolina. It wasn’t a so-called pressing “team need” heading into the draft weekend, but that is why you adapt as a team once the draft starts to play out. Players slide, and when a QB like Clausen, who had first-round grades heading into the draft, is sitting by the phone when you are on the clock, you take that opportunity.

Moore should be the starter and should work with the first unit once camp opens this summer for Carolina. He has earned that right by coming in for former starter Jake Delhomme last season, getting WR Steve Smith involved in the game plan and winning football games.

But, to call Moore a “sure thing” as an NFL QB is a stretch at this point. He doesn’t have enough experience, a track record of winning crucial games or dealing with the adversity of an entire NFL season.

And now he has some competition with Clausen.

Just like any other veteran who saw a rookie drafted at his position in the first three rounds of the draft, he will be pushed during camp for playing time. That is part of the draft for a veteran player. Every year, clubs try to upgrade their rosters with rookie talent, and it is up to those veteran players to defend their starting roles.

Like any rookie, we will have to wait and see with Clausen. He dropped for a reason, but that doesn’t hide the fact that he will compete this summer for serious playing time on a team that can win football games. The Panthers added WR Brandon LaFell from LSU — a player that hopefully can open up the field for Smith — and they have one of the better running games in the entire league.

But, the way I see it, the QB job is open until Moore can close the door on the high- profile rookie from Notre Dame.

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