Commentary

Clausen's loss is Carolina's gain

Quarterback's slide was costly, but it allowed Panthers to land potential building block

Originally Published: April 23, 2010
By John Clayton | ESPN.com

NEW YORK -- Based on last year's rookie contracts, Jimmy Clausen lost about $44 million as a result of his slide from the first round to the 48th pick in the draft.

So how can the NFL draft's biggest loser be involved in the biggest win? Simple. The Carolina Panthers finally got the young quarterback they've been neglecting to acquire for years. The Panthers, who selected Clausen in the second round, were the surprise beneficiaries of the quarterback's fall.

From Clausen's standpoint, the fall was steep and costly. Mark Sanchez received a five-year, $47.5 million contract that could be worth as much as $60 million as the fifth pick of the 2009 draft. The 48th pick in last year's draft received a four-year, $3.16 million deal.

Clausen's loss, though, was Carolina's gain. Here are the three winners and losers from the second day of the 2010 draft:

Winners

1. The Panthers: They entered the day not thinking about taking a quarterback. They might have played to the strength of the draft by taking a big defensive tackle with their second-round pick. Things changed as the draft progressed. Earlier in the day, the thought reached the Panthers that Clausen could fall to them if the Browns didn't take him at No. 38 and the Bills didn't take him at No. 41. Although some thought other teams were going to trade up for Clausen or Colt McCoy, that wasn't the case Friday night.

The Browns selected safety T.J. Ward with their second-round choice. The Bills drafted for need by taking nose tackle Torell Troup. All of a sudden, Clausen was in play and palms started sweating in the Panthers' draft room. After the Bills, the Panthers had to sweat through six choices to see if Clausen would fall to them. What worried the Panthers the most were trades. They knew the Bucs, Ravens, Patriots, Broncos and Giants weren't going to take a quarterback.

The Raiders traded to No. 44, but they took defensive tackle Lamarr Houston. The Panthers' biggest scare came when Arizona traded to the pick ahead of them. Would the Cardinals take Clausen to eventually replace Matt Leinart? The answer was no. The Cardinals took linebacker Daryl Washington. What's nice about the Panthers' getting Clausen is that they're a running team. That could make it easier for Clausen to have some success if he plays as a rookie.

2. The Ravens: Some wondered if the Ravens were losers when they failed to get wide receivers Dez Bryant or Demaryius Thomas or tight end Jermaine Gresham in the first round. Instead, they traded back into the second round, where they made major upgrades on defense. They got a big pass-rushing linebacker, Sergio Kindle. They got the biggest nose tackle in the draft, 349-pound Terrence Cody, who will bring back memories of Tony Siragusa. Both came as second-round bargains.

In the third round, the Ravens got their tight end of the future, Ed Dickson. Most people thought the Ravens were concerned about getting a wide receiver in the first two days. They traded for Anquan Boldin and re-signed Derrick Mason. Getting another receiver was a luxury. Getting front-seven help on defense was a necessity.

3. The Patriots: You have to give Bill Belichick credit for making a commitment to youth. After wheeling and dealing draft choices for many years, the Patriots are in the midst of assembling one of the biggest draft classes in years. They drafted cornerback Devin McCourty in the first round and moved up and down the second round to grab tight end Rob Gronkowski, defensive end Jermaine Cunningham and linebacker Brandon Spikes.

In the third round, the Pats picked up wide receiver Taylor Price.

The beauty of all of this is that New England will enter the final day with eight more choices. That gives the Patriots plenty of assets to build for the present and the future. The Patriots could have a draft class of as many as 13 players if they don't make more trades. You figure they will swap 2010 picks for 2011 selections and stockpile for the future. After all, 13 rookies probably can't make the Patriots. The Pats have done the best job of using draft choices like playing cards. They have a full house.

Losers

1. The Chargers: San Diego drafted for need, but it made some costly trades, eating up some of the gains from the Charlie Whitehurst trade. It started Thursday, when the Chargers moved from the 28th pick in the first round to No. 12 to take halfback Ryan Mathews. The price was a second-round pick and the loss of 16 spots in the fourth round. To replace LaDainian Tomlinson, the Chargers had to find a starting running back. Mathews was their choice and the Chargers knew they had to get ahead of the Texans, who wanted him at No. 20.

To get linebacker Donald Butler in the third round, the Chargers had to give up a sixth-round pick in this year's draft and a fourth-rounder in 2011. That enabled them to move up 12 spots in the third round. In the rest of the draft, the Chargers have only a fourth, two fifths and a seventh. They will have only two picks in the top 110 of a rich draft.

2. The Vikings: Brett Favre better come back because the Vikings didn't necessarily wow anyone on Day 2. Before the end of the first round, they let the Lions move into the 30th spot and take exciting running back Jahvid Best. The trade allowed the Vikings to move from near the bottom of the fourth round to the second pick in that round. The Lions threw in a seventh-rounder as well. But the move cost Minnesota the chance to draft cornerback Patrick Robinson, who went to the Saints at No. 32.

The Vikings came back with the Lions' second-round pick to take cornerback Chris Cook. They were also able to land running back Toby Gerhart in the second round after trading a third-round pick to move up. Gerhart is a curious fit. Now the Vikings have two power backs in Adrian Peterson and Gerhart, but they may miss some of the third-down skills of a Chester Taylor, who left for the Bears.

3. The Redskins: They didn't have a second- or third-round choice and you know how owner Dan Snyder hates to miss being involved in the action. The Redskins were unable to trade defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, and now Haynesworth remains on a 3-4 defense he doesn't like and he's only attending mandatory Redskins functions.

Wide receiver Devin Thomas and quarterback Jason Campbell were available. A Thomas trade seems unlikely and Campbell may be a throw-in on a Saturday trade. The Redskins had to sit out Friday night, but at least they can cling to the Donovan McNabb deal, which alone could put them back in playoff contention.

John Clayton, a recipient of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's McCann Award for distinguished reporting, is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

John Clayton

NFL senior writer