Clausen, Gerhart picked in 2nd round; McCoy in 3rd
AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) – Jimmy Clausen turned out to be a first pick, after all.
A day after being passed over in the first round of the NFL draft, Clausen was one excited quarterback: The Carolina Panthers used their first pick in the draft to select him in the second round Friday night, No. 48 overall.
It could be a perfect fit. Coach John Fox told Clausen that the Panthers’ offense is similar to the one he excelled in during his three years under coach Charlie Weis at Notre Dame.
And there’s this little nugget, too. Jake Delhomme is no longer with the Panthers and the current starting quarterback is unproven Matt Moore.
“I think it’s going to help me tremendously, being in Coach Weis’ system,” Clausen said.
There was relief in the Carolina war room, too.
General manager Marty Hurney spent Friday trying to move up to the first pick in the second round to take Clausen, who was just 16-18 at Notre Dame. He was unable to swing a deal and then held his breath, fearing Arizona was about to grab Clausen after trading up for the No. 47 pick.
“You always say anything can happen,” Hurney said as the Cardinals went for a linebacker. “Wow, it happened. We feel extremely fortunate to get a quarterback of his ability with the 48th pick.”
Texas quarterback Colt McCoy joined in the fun, too, but not until the third round when his college coach, Mack Brown, announced that he had been taken by Cleveland at No. 85.
“My heart skipped a beat,” McCoy said of getting the phone call from Browns president Mike Holmgren. “I am where I’m supposed to be, and that’s Cleveland. It’s a blue-collar town, and that’s how I am.
“To have Coach Brown introduce me and announce my name is really special.”
Day 2 of the draft at Radio City Music Hall got off to a slow start, with former stars such as Jim Brown, Floyd Little, Ray Lewis and Dan Marino announcing the early second-round choices. The opening pick Friday was by St. Louis, who took Rodger Saffold, an offensive tackle from Indiana who will get a chance to protect the Rams’ No. 1 pick Sam Bradford. Minnesota followed with its first pick of the draft, cornerback Chris Cook of Virginia. Tampa Bay went for UCLA defensive tackle Brian Price.
“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.”
After Clausen, a flurry of All-Americans followed. Safety Taylor Mays of USC went to San Francisco at No. 49, cornerback/punt returner Javier Arenas went to Kansas City at No. 50, followed by Heisman Trophy runner-up Toby Gerhart going to Minnesota, where he could find himself sharing carries with Pro-Bowler and fellow Heisman-runner-up Adrian Peterson.
“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.”
Clausen was an expected first-rounder, but Bradford and Tim Tebow – the surprise No. 25 pick of the Denver Broncos – were the only quarterbacks to go in the first round.
“I’m so excited to be a part of the Panthers organization,” Clausen said. “I just want to tell you that you guys made the best pick in the draft, and I’m going to make you guys proud.”
The knock on the 6-foot-3, 222-pound Clausen is questionable leadership and arm strength.
“He’s an excellent football player, but he doesn’t have great arm strength,” NFL draft consultant Gil Brandt said. “That’s all right, though. He only threw four interceptions last year, he led his team to four comeback wins and led his team to four other comebacks in games they lost.”
Another large crowd showed up at Radio City, but there was not much reaction until Clausen was chosen. His selections drew perhaps the loudest cheers of the night – even more than the picks made by the hometown Giants and Jets.
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.
McCoy was taken after his favorite target with the Longhorns, Jordan Shipley, went to Cincinnati. 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.
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 “Mount” Cody landed in Baltimore at No. 57; 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 Friday night, even Clausen.
The final player selected on Day 2 was Alabama All-America guard Mike Johnson.
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.”