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Tag:Jimmy Clausen
Posted on: March 21, 2011 11:31 am
 

Big surprise - Panthers focusing on QBs for No. 1

Just as he did during the Combine, Panthers' head coach Ron Rivera has highlighted a group of eight prospects for the No. 1 overall pick.

He cited three quarterbacks among those prospects -- Auburn's Cam Newton, Missouri's Blaine Gabbert and, perhaps surprisingly, Arkansas' Ryan Mallett.

Though there are another five players potentially in play for the top pick -- presumably defensive linemen Marcell Dareus, Da'Quan Bowers and Nick Fairley, cornerback Patrick Peterson and wide receiver A.J. Green -- the Panthers' focus seems pretty intent on finding another quarterback to compete with (and potentially replace) incumbent starter Jimmy Clausen, at least according to a report from Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer.

Person notes that the Panthers "could go after" one of the five "other" picks in the draft, but only if "If the Panthers decide to bring in a veteran quarterback through a trade or free agency, assuming the lockout is resolved early enough."

Clearly, Person believes that the Panthers are acknowleding that quarterback is the number one priority and will be addressed. 

Person quotes Rivera as saying, “We have a number of positions that we've identified as needs. We're trying to get to that point where we can start filling those needs as the time is appropriate,” Rivera said. “If you can fill a need through free agency, we're going to do it. If we have to go through the draft, we'll do it. If we've got to make a trade, we'll do it.”

Should Carolina find a way to add a veteran quarterback, which is, of course, impossible until a new CBA is agreed to, the Panthers have options with the first pick.

If not, they'll be choosing between Newton and Gabbert with their first pick.

Regardless of what Rivera is saying publicly, Mallett is very much fighting just to stay in the first round, according to multiple sources inside the league,  much less contend for No. 1 overall honors.

Posted on: March 7, 2011 1:59 pm
 

Rivera, Elway among those going to Auburn Pro Day

The Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos, owners of the top two picks of the 2011 draft, will be well represented at Auburn's Pro Day tomorrow.

Darin Gantt of the Rock Jill Herald reports that Carolina will send head coach Ron Rivera to the workout. Broncos' Vice President of Football Operations John Elway announced via his Twitter account that he, too, will be making the trip. Don't be surprised if every team in the league is represented at Auburn's Pro Day.

Quarterback Cam Newton is an obvious attraction, but getting a bit lost in the hype over the Heisman winner is the stock of defensive tackle Nick Fairley. One could argue that the Panthers and Broncos need help at defensive tackle every bit as much as at quarterback, especially considering the fact that both clubs invested high round picks in Jimmy Clausen and Tim Tebow, respectivley, just last year.

The timing of Auburn's Pro Day is a bit inconvenient for scouts as Arkansas and Oklahoma also have their Pro Days scheduled for tomorrow.

With so much interest in Newton and Fairley, most teams will likely choose to go to Auburn's workout over the others. However, the Arkansas Pro Day is very intriguing, as well. Talented, but troubled quarterback Ryan Mallett will be throwing, of course, which is reason enough to attend the workout. Mallett enjoyed a spectacular throwing session at the Combine and thus, doesn't have quite as much riding on his physical performance Tuesday as Newton, who struggled with accuracy in Indianapolis.

That said, teams truly interested in drafting Mallett may want to attend his workout to gauge more than just his physical skills. How Mallett interacts with his former teammates (and they with him) could give clubs a greater feel for his leadership potential at the next level.


Posted on: January 12, 2011 12:01 pm
Edited on: January 12, 2011 12:03 pm
 

Rivera provides clues in introductory presser

I'm a firm believer that watching the video (or attending live) the introductory press conferences for new NFL coaches can give us a sense of where a team might be going with their roster.

This isn't always the case and I believe it is lessened when the head coach is taking over his second or third team. Rookie head coaches, however, perhaps because of their inexperience or enthusiasm, do sometimes let things slip in meeting and answering the local media's questions for the first time.

After viewing new Carolina head coach Ron Rivera's press conference (available on the Panthers' official website ), I came away with several thoughts on the direction he'll lead this team.

While most of the impressions I gleaned from the press conference deal with scheme and Rivera's early evaluation of the team's current talent, perhaps the most important one came from Rivera's personality. As stated, I've watched many introductory press conferences during my ten years in this business. Rivera's passion, drive and leadership stood out. I believe the Carolina Panthers are going from one very good head coach in John Fox to another very good one in Rivera. Considering how different the two coaches' personalities are, that's a rare feat.

 In a previous blog post I cited Rivera's experience in the 3-4 scheme as a reason why Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley -- who I believe to be best suited to the 4-3 -- would not be the first overall pick. While Rivera was hired away from San Diego, which ran the 3-4 scheme, he is actually more experienced in the 4-3 having played (and coached) this style with the Chicago Bears and coached with the Philadelphia Eagles, as well.

Rivera took little time in addressing which style of defense Carolina would be running.

"As far as the scheme is concerned, we are a 4-3 defense," Rivera said. "That's what this team is, I think the personnel is set up for that. I think that the personnel is set up that if we can make a couple of additions to it we can be a solid unit and have success early."

Could one of those "additions" be Fairley, Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers, Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus or LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson? Perhaps. All four are being graded as top five picks from a number of teams I've spoken to. Most cite Peterson as the best player in the draft.

Rivera left the door open for the No. 1 pick to be a quarterback, as well, but I don't believe he'll be

"I think we you look at it, that the one position we have to find answers for [is quarterback] - and I think he has some athletic ability and comes from a pretty solid foundation and that is Jimmy Clausen - to see if Jimmy or if there is a quarterback on this roster who can become that franchise guy you need," Rivera said. "Because if there is one thing I've been fortunate to be around my last four years is a franchise quarterback in Philip Rivers, who is very solid. That's one of the things that we need to take a look at on the offensive side and that is going to be a big influence and impact when we sit down with the offensive coordinator candidates and the quarterback coach is to find out exactly what their approach is going to be with the guys on this roster , okay, and the potential candidates that are out there in the draft or free agency."

I put "on this roster" in italics because Rivera stressed it. This is what I am referring to in actually viewing the press conference. Rivera's words, by transcription only, may lead you to believe that the Panthers will consider drafting a quarterback with the first pick - and, of course, they will. But, the fact that Rivera wants to know "exactly" what prospective offensive coordinators and quarterback coaches thought of Clausen and the Panthers "other" quarterbacks -- Matt Moore, Brian St. Pierre and Tony Pike -- could be an indication that he'd rather use the pick elsewhere.

An unexpected nugget came from Rivera when discussing the tight end position. While complimentary about virtually every other position, the new head coach sounded like a man expecting significant improvement from this position. Rivera, of course, is coming from a San Diego team that boasts All-Pro Antonio Gates - and players like that don't exactly grow on trees - but the fact that he highlighted the position is interesting.

This is pure speculation, but it leads me to wonder if Rivera thought that perhaps better play from the tight end position would have significantly aided Clausen's development as a rookie.

"Tight end is by committee," Rivera said. "There is [sic] three guys there that I like and that I think each have a quality of their own, but if there is a guy out there - whether it be through the draft or free agency or on our roster that does it all the time, we have to find him. I think that will help us as an offense."

The Panthers featured Jeff King, Dante Rosario and Gary Barnidge. The trio combined for 51 catches for 385 yards and two touchdowns.

Posted on: January 6, 2011 6:49 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2011 7:07 pm
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Posted on: December 27, 2010 12:24 pm
 

Carolina officially on the clock

Upset victories by the Cincinnati Bengals and Denver Broncos yesterday assured that the Carolina Panthers will finish the 2010 season with the worst record in the NFL and therefore will be awarded the first pick of the 2011 draft.

Despite the fact that the team invested in Jimmy Clausen with their first pick last April, it is a virtual certainty that the team will select Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck should the redshirt sophomore elect to leave school early.

With Luck now knowing precisely where he'd begin his NFL career, his decision is made easier.

His decision could furthermore be made easier if recent speculation is correct and Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh is likely to leave The Cardinal after this season for another coaching position.
Many league insiders feel that if Harbaugh leaves, Luck will leave Stanford too.

Throughout the year there had been plenty of bold talk out of Stanford that Harbaugh would return. In fact, Stanford athletic director Bob Bowlsby had been quoted as saying that "Jim has indicated he plans to accept" a multi-year extension rumored to be in the neighborhood of three million dollars per season. Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News asked Harbaugh if he had signed the deal (he hasn't) and what Harbaugh thought of his Bowlsby's proclamation that Harbaugh would soon sign the deal. Harbaugh's short reply only added fuel to the fire that he is looking at other options. Harbaugh, according to Wilner, said "Maybe he [Bowlsby] misspoke."

We now know Carolina has the first pick. One can read between the lines to see that Harbaugh is considering his options. There is a belief throughout the league that Harbaugh will consider an NFL position, but would rather take over for Rich Rodriguez at Michigan, Harbaugh's alma mater.

The only question now is whether Luck wants to play in Carolina.
 
Current Panthers' head coach John Fox is on his way out. Carolina general manager Marty Hurney may want to consider head coaches that would entice Luck to leave school early.
Posted on: December 20, 2010 11:19 am
Edited on: December 20, 2010 11:21 am
 

Young NFL QBs Tebow, Flynn, etc impress

As you've no doubt heard or read before, the NFL is a results business. For all of the hype that Tim Tebow received coming out of college (and the little that Matt Flynn had), they were among a group of young passers forced to prove themselves Sunday.

Tim Tebow's starting debut, of course, was the player most focused on. Tebow was unable to lead the Broncos to a victory in Oakland, but played better than his statistics might lead you to believe. The Broncos protected their rookie quarterback with a run-heavy attack. Tebow completed 8 of 16 passes for 138 yards and a touchdown. He would have thrown for another TD had RB Lance Ball not dropped a short pass in the endzone. Tebow also led the team with 78 rushing yards, including a 40 yard touchdown run that showcased the Heisman form that helped him overtake Herschel Walker as the SEC's career leader in touchdowns. Tebow wasn't spectacular, but considering that Denver had lost 59-14 at home to the Raiders in October and were tied at 20-20 in the 3rd quarter before Oakland was able to pull away late to win 39-20), Tebow showed plenty of upside.

Perhaps the most surprising performance of the day -- at least to some -- came from Green Bay Packers' backup Matt Flynn . Flynn, a three year veteran making his first career start, out-shined MVP candidate Tom Brady for much of the night, completing 24 of 37 passes for 251 yards and three touchdowns. He also threw an interception. Flynn played poorly a week earlier after Packers' starter Aaron Rodgers went down with a concussion against Detroit. Flynn's improvement in this game wasn't a surprise to Packers' brass. They are very high on Flynn, as evidenced by the fact that they kept him over 2008 second round choice Brian Brohm. In fact, as I noted in this space in September of 2009, some of the reason why Packers' GM Ted Thompson forced Brett Favre to either retire or accept a trade to a team other than the Vikings was the belief in the former LSU standout, Flynn.
Flynn's performance will hardly unseat Aaron Rodgers, but it does provide the Packers with the assurance that they have a reliable backup and trade commodity.

Tebow and Flynn's efforts in losses weren't the only highlights from young quarterbacks, however.

The Carolina Panthers got their first win under rookie Jimmy Clausen . Clausen was far from spectacular in the Panthers' 19-12 victory over Arizona, but he was more efficient than fellow rookie John Skelton, completing 13 of 19 passes for 141 yards and a touchdown. He did not commit a turnover - only the second time in eight starts this season that's he thrown for a TD and not had a turnover. Clausen wasn't so good that the Panthers should consider anyone other than Andrew Luck with the first overall pick, should the Stanford redshirt sophomore come out early and Carolina end the season with the worst record. He was good enough, however, to allow the team to look at another position (rather than reach for another developmental QB) should Luck remain at Stanford. 

In terms of efficiency, Cleveland's Colt McCoy (19-25 for 243 yards and two TDs) was actually the most impressive rookie quarterback of the day. The Browns struggled to maintain drives against the Bengals, however, and lost to Cincinnati, breaking Marvin Lewis' squad's 10-game losing streak. McCoy's two touchdowns came on a trick play in the first quarter and a defensive breakdown in the 4th.

The Broncos, Packers, Panthers and Browns have plenty of decisions to make before the April draft. Some of those decisions, however, may have been made easier with the performances of their young QBs yesterday.

Remember that for complete draft coverage, be sure to check out NFLDraftScout.com or simply click here.


Posted on: December 13, 2010 1:31 pm
 

Clausen OK, but Carolina has to hope its "Luck"y

NFLDraftScout.com analyst Chris Steuber highlights the "race" to have the first pick of the 2011 NFL draft with a breakdown of the Panthers, Bills and Bengals are facing.

The Panthers, at 1-11, are the favorite to finish with the worst record, as they could find it difficult to win another game this season. Their home matchup this weekend against the 4-9 Arizona Cardinals could decide things, as the Panthers face the Steelers and Falcons to close out the year.

It would be unfair to rookie Jimmy Clausen for the Panthers to invest another high round selection at quarterback this soon. Statistically, he's been terrible this season (51.3 completion percentage, 1 TD/7 INTs), but there have been flashes of the arm strength, toughness, accuracy and leadership necessary to be a successful starting quarterback in the NFL.

Again, giving up on their 2010 second round pick after only 10 starts (assuming he starts the final three games this season) it would be unfair to Clausen. However, the Panthers can't be focused on what is fair for any individual player. They have to do what is best for their franchise - and that would be drafting Luck, should the redshirt sophomore elect to leave Stanford with two years of collegiate eligibility remaining.

Should Luck not come out, the Panthers would find themselves with a much tougher decision. Carolina is a team with plenty of holes, so the Panthers would be wise to investigate trade the pick. As well all know by now, however, the financial obligations of the No. 1 overall pick make it very difficult to trade out of the top spot. 

Unfortunately for the Panthers, should they have to go in another direction because Luck returns to school, their holes in personnel don't necessarily match up well with talent likely to be available. The Panthers would love to find an elite defensive lineman in this draft -- and there are some good ones -- but none as sure as Ndamukong Suh last year. The team could use some reinforcements along the offensive line -- but many scouts believe that there won't be an offensive tackle worthy of a Top 15 pick in this draft, much less No. 1. Besides, left tackle Jordan Gross is among the better all-around left tackles in the league. He's not Carolina's problem.

The two best players (other than Luck) could be fellow underclassmen Patrick Peterson and A.J. Green. Peterson is as good of a cornerback prospect as I've ever seen, but plays at one of the few positions where Carolina already has some talent. Green is a future Pro Bowl regular, but the team has already invested heavily at the position and likely will find the idea of giving another young receiver No. 1 overall type money unpalatable.

Carolina fans have had little to celebrate this season. Perhaps if they and their team gets "Luck"y, there will be a silver lining around this dark cloud.
Posted on: August 18, 2010 2:16 pm
 

Irish WR Floyd making new coach Kelly a believer

New Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly made waves yesterday with his candid first impressions of junior wideout Michael Floyd, considered by some to be among the country's very best wide receivers.

Said Kelly, "“I thought Michael Floyd was overhyped. I thought he was, at times, average.”

Asked to explain further, Kelly provided plenty of details.

"He wasn't a precision route runner," Kelly told the media, including Eric Hansen of the South Bend Tribune . "[Floyd] wasn't asked to be. He was a match-up guy. Bodied people, caught the ball — sometimes he did, sometimes he didn't. If you watched him, were evaluating him, you go, ‘OK, he's got a big body, he runs down the field. If they throw it up there, there's a good chance he's going to get it. You never saw him in positions to run the dig or drive, be one-on-one, beat coverage on a quick slant on fourth down and snap his hands. All those things that go to winning football games, I didn't see that. Maybe it's because they had Golden Tate, and he did all that for him. So my evaluation of Mike was based upon the film I had.”

While Floyd's film may not have made a favorable first impression on his head coach, his work ethic throughout spring and summer, on the other hand, certainly has.

"In 20 years, I have not had a player who has worked as hard as Michael Floyd has worked,” Kelly said. “And I mean that. He has out-worked everybody on the offensive side of the ball to the point where he has single-handedly set the bar for where everybody else needs to bring their play.

“When we've gone in the last couple of days, situational live if you will, he's been dominant. Believe me, I'm not easily impressed. ... Michael Floyd can do more. He's capable of doing a lot more. He's shown to me that he can be that guy that is a complete wide receiver.”

Floyd, 6-3, 220 pounds, was one of the nation's most dangerous big play threats under Charlie Weis. Though Floyd only played in seven games last year due to a broken collarbone suffered against Michigan State, when he was on the field, he was virtually unstoppable. Floyd posted 44 receptions for 795 yards (18.1 average) and nine touchdowns. He scored at least one touchdown in six of the seven games in which he played. The one game in which he didn't score a touchdown -- Pittsburgh -- Floyd caught 7 passes for 107 yards.

With quarterback Jimmy Clausen and fellow wideout Golden Tate having left early for the NFL, Kelly's comments could be aimed at lighting a fire under Floyd, who is expected to be the Irish's primary weapon on offense in 2010.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com