Hurney’s decision to draft Clausen will pay off for Panthers, Moore

After the Panthers selected Jimmy Clausen in the second round of the NFL draft on Friday, many pundits started to wonder whether or not the team had confidence in Matt Moore as a starter. Then when GM Marty Hurney selected Tony Pike in the sixth round, some experts’ heads were ready to explode as they feverishly talked about how Moore may not be wanted in Carolina.

But let’s take a step back for a moment and look at the situation as a whole. Entering the draft, the Panthers had Moore and Hunter Cantwell on the depth chart at quarterback. Even if the team has confidence in Moore (which it still sounds like they do), they had to take a quarterback as insurance in case he turned out to be a disaster or suffered an injury. Say again, they had to draft a quarterback.

Reports have surfaced that Hurney was attempting to trade up in the second round to take Clausen, which does indicate that the team isn’t completely sold on Moore as their franchise quarterback. But considering Clausen was a top 15 pick who fell into the second round, Hurney would have probably kicked himself if he didn’t at least try to trade up for him. He knew he needed a quarterback and considering Clausen represented so much value in the second round, it made sense for him to try and trade up to get him. Then when Clausen fell to him anyway, it was a perfect situation.

Competition is never a bad thing in sports. Moore will become a better quarterback with Clausen nipping at his heels, just as Joe Montana became a better quarterback when Bill Walsh traded for Steve Young. (Did I just compare Matt Moore to Joe Montana? Somebody shoot me.) Players become more focused when they know someone is trying to take their job and Hurney was smart to challenge Moore (who by the way, only has eight career starts under his belt) so that the 25-year-old QB didn’t become complacent knowing that Cantwell was the only person behind him on the depth chart.

While Hurney’s decision to draft Pike in the sixth round was a head-scratcher, it probably won’t matter in the long run. Pike isn’t a great fit for Carolina’s run-heavy offense and he has durability issues. If he doesn’t beat out Cantwell, he’ll either be cut or stored on the practice squad, meaning all the hoopla over his selection in the sixth round would have been for nothing.

I’ve been critical of some of the Panthers’ moves in the past, namely their decision to trade a first round pick for the rights to take Everette Brown in the second round last year, and trading up to take Armanti Edwards in the third round this year. But Hurney’s selection of Clausen (and even Pike for that matter) will go a long way in helping Moore and the Panthers stay competitive.

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