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April 24, 2010

Reviewing a huge draft day for Panthers: The Clausen Chase, The Armanti Factor

Wow, what a night for the Carolina Panthers. After a very dull offseason, what happened in the second and third rounds of the NFL draft should send jolts of excitement through their fan base.

What began the day as the foremost national story entering Round 2 -- Where will Jimmy Clausen go? -- wound up having a soft landing right here in Charlotte.

Clausen was rated as a Top 10 overall prospect by some scouts and analysts, but fell way down draft boards when other teams needing quarterbacks didn't take him, apparently because of questions about his leadership ability and personality.

Carolina general manager Marty Hurney didn't prescribe to that line of thinking, however. We know now that Hurney spent the day trying to trade up into the second round, never thinking that Clausen would fall all the way to Carolina's spot at No. 48.

He called the St. Louis Rams, who had the first pick in Round 2, 33rd overall. But the Rams wouldn't make a deal, apparently because Hurney was not willing to surrender a future first-round pick for the third consecutive year.

Hurney tried to trade all through Round 2, but kept running into the same problem.

Alas, he sat there at 48 and got Clausen anyway, prompting him to say "Sometimes the best trades are the ones you don't make."

Thirty picks later, the Panthers got the big, strong possession receiver they needed, LSU's Brandon LaFell.

That appeared to end their day of picks, but Hurney wasn't finished.

Though he wouldn't deal his 2011 No. 1, he was ready and willing to swap his second-rounder next year and found a willing partner in New England. The Patriots love to collect future second rounders and, in exchange, gave Carolina their pick at No. 89, the 25th selection in the third round.

With that pick, the Panthers chose Appalachian State dynamo Armanti Edwards, a superstar quarterback in college who projects to be a wide receiver and kick returner in the pros. 

Hurney clearly targeted Edwards, who has an expansive local following of fans who watched him lead Appachian State to greatness the past four years.

But giving up a future second-rounder to pick a player being projected to change positions in the late third round this year was a huge gamble by Hurney. He seemed confident he won't be wrong.

"Times's going to tell about him, but you get a feeling about him, (that) he’s going to be a very good player," said Hurney. "You’re talking about him having a year to devleop and a year to train at the wide receiver position and (on) returns, and whatever we use him as. 

"I think hopefully, we’ll see in a year that that was the right thing to do."

Edwards led Appalachian to two national titles and is the only two-time winner of the Walter Payton Award as the best player on the FCS (formerly NCAA Division I-AA) level. He is the only player in Division I history with at least 9,000 yards passing and 4,000 rushing.

Edwards impressed scouts at the NFL combine and at his pro day workout, running the 40-yard dash in 4.43 seconds.

As much as it may look like Hurney made a big reach to pick Edwards late in the third round when even Edwards said he expected to go in the fourth or fifth, it's worth noting that there were other teams plenty excited about Edwards, too.

In a recent story by Bob McGinn on the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's website, several NFL personnel types were quoted heaping praise on Edwards.

"Oh man, this guy is lightning," said Rams vice president Tony Softli, formerly the Panthers' director of college scouting. "He's your third quarterback or Wildcat. Possibly use him like (Cleveland's) Seneca Wallace where he can play wide receiver in certain situations. A lot of people are looking at him out at wide receiver."

San Diego Chargers general manager A.J. Smith said: "I think he does everything perfect. He can run like the wind and throw good enough and he's a great athlete."

A scout who wasn't named added: "Granted he's 3 or 4 inches shorter and 40 pounds lighter than (Tim) Tebow, but he throws so much better. This guy is a terrific college football player."

Keep in mind that Edwards rushed for 65 touchdowns in college, showing how dangerous he is with his feet.

For Hurney to make so bold a trade, he clearly didn't think Edwards would fall to the Panthers at No. 112 in Round 4. Two receivers went at No. 87 and 88 -- Eric Decker to Denver and Andre Roberts to Arizona. Numerous teams could've taken Edwards long before No. 112, including St. Louis at No. 99 with the first pick of Round 4.

Of the 14 picks between the 77th and 90th selections, eight were receivers, including LaFell at No. 78.

Hurney said the Panthers could use Edwards in a variety of ways, but wouldn't be specific. More than likely, that includes in the Wildcat formation and possibly throwing passes from the wide receiver position, not to mention playing the slot and getting open in the middle of the field and downfield for deep passes.

It was a night that won't soon be forgotten among the Panthers and their fans. It has the potential to be one of the best single days of drafting in team history.

As Hurney said, time will tell.

-- Charles Chandler 

Posted by Observer Sports on April 24, 2010 at 12:53 AM | Permalink


I couldn't disagree more! I mean I love Clausen but I don't think he beats out matt Moore this year or next! tate was the right pick to make. Then the LSU WR, who ran a 4.6 .40 he does look faster in games though. Then We gave up WAY!!! to much for Armani! he would have been there! later..I think and if not We are going to ask him to play a position he has never! played b4! and a position he REFUSED! to play in college! That's how he ended up at App! the big schools told him he have to play another position if he came there. I mean It's a HUGE!!!!!!!!!! Gamble! that if it works out all is well if not...Fox and Hurney will (and should) lose their jobs..for things done this draft and off-season. (then again I don't think either should still be employed by us now....

Posted by: Cheven | Apr 24, 2010 1:49:29 AM

As I said in a previous comment...
You took on Gantt(Charlotte Observer)..., and who is in Love with Edwards? And We now have him... Where is the unbiased opinion in the "journalism." Just as the LOVE for Jake!!!

Posted by: fox has to go!! | Apr 24, 2010 2:29:48 AM

I'd say he is just happy to have his name come off the draft board at this point. Most including myself, never expected him to go this high in the draft. I had him mid to late 5th rounder, which was higher than most. Panthers obviously have big plans for him in their offensive scheme whether wildcat QB, receiver, and or a special team return man.Congratulations AE, and best wishes on your journey to the next "level". May you now amaze those outside of the APP Federation, showing the world what you are capable of.

Posted by: Yosefederation | Apr 24, 2010 3:03:20 AM

How come there has hardly been any coverage of Brandon Lafell? I don't wanna complain that much, but I actually am extremely interested in him because that was our MOST glaring need and I'm interested to see how this guy may fill that need. (or not fill it)

Not againsst drafting Armanti in the third round, especially towards the end. What I am very suspect of is giving away the second rounder, obviously. But come to think of it, the Panthers normally don't make good picks in the second round besides Kahlil, historically speaking. This season is too early to tell, but they took a QB who was supposed to go in the top 10 so even if he does end up being great you can't give them too much credit for that.

Just saying its not the end of the world that we got rid of that pick. And for once we get to KEEP our first rounder! Hurney is a MASTER at first round picks.

Posted by: Gamble20 | Apr 24, 2010 3:41:12 AM

Cheven your an idiot. Why would you want another 5'10ish receiver lined across from Smith? Tate is ok but the days of small WRs are drawing to an end because corners are getting bigger and stronger. I just dont like the fact that they arent willing to utilize all the talents that Edwards will bring. Other than that, it was a another great draft for Hurney.

Posted by: D.W.G | Apr 24, 2010 5:04:10 AM

I personally think this is the best draft day for Hurney since we took d-will

Posted by: section309 | Apr 24, 2010 6:50:19 AM

Cheven, learn how! to use! punctuation! Idiot!

Posted by: Zach | Apr 24, 2010 6:55:08 AM

To even question whether we should have picked clausen is unbelievable... excellent, excellent pick where we got him. I have watched Armanti play a few games - we'll likely look back on this and thought we could have used our first pick on him. If he would have been with any other team in NC or SC, he would have started at QB - this kid is real.

Posted by: AZ | Apr 24, 2010 7:20:44 AM

While I don't understand the trade of a future second rounder for Armanti Edwards, I think the other two picks in Brandon LaFell and Jimmy Clausen are surprisingly solid picks for the Panthers. Panther fans are always hypercritical of any move Carolina makes and rightfully so. Evidently the brass at Carolina feel that Clausen can be the cornerstone of the franchise for years or the draft of a QB would not have taken place. My concern is that the Panthers had so many needs and yet they draft two QB's. One will likely be converted and those situations rarely work out. I haven't heard the phrase, "best player available" yet but I am sure it's soon coming. Still, I like this draft much more than in past years. Let's hope that some holes on the defensive side of the ball are filled.

Posted by: DaveFromDallas(NC) | Apr 24, 2010 7:27:13 AM

Having read too many draft blogs,, AE was flying up the draft board just like Pat White did. He will be an immediate impact in the WildCat, instead of Deangelo run right and run left , AE will give us a passing option. If he fits in to special teams or slot next year that will be an added plus. Also we will not have to keep Hunter Cantwell on the team as he can be 3rd qb. Great pick, I am excited about all of our picks.

Posted by: Smoke Monster | Apr 24, 2010 7:46:34 AM

Well, from the western part of our state another fan favorite arrives. First Hoover, now Amanti Edwards. Good luck AE. Can't wait to root for you. Make us proud.

Posted by: Headache_Man | Apr 24, 2010 7:52:59 AM

@DaveFromDallas(NC): Defensive side should be filled today. There are at least a couple of 2nd round talent D-linemen left. My guess Geno Atkins at pick 112.

Posted by: Bob | Apr 24, 2010 7:58:23 AM

Let's be optimistic people. I'm so tired of hearing the criticism and pessimism that so called Panther fans are posting on these blogs. Where's the praise? The Panthers addressed the QB position, which was one of the most important needs of the draft. I know Moore did quite well last season, but he is still unproven, and it doesn't hurt having some other, possible, quality options at the position. The Panther's also landed a wide receiver in Brandon LaFell, who resembles Muhammad in my opinion. And the receiver position was obviously a huge, glaring need. Finally they finished the day with the addition of Armanti Edwards, who seems to be a Vick style player. Now the Panthers must target defense today

Posted by: jabra | Apr 24, 2010 8:10:00 AM

@Bob it wouldn't suprise me if they get Atkins from Georgia. They seem to have pretty good success drafting Georgia players, ala Thomas Davis, Will Weatherspoon, Corvey Irvin last Year (although the jury on him is still out). But hey whether it's Atkins, the DE from USC they have to go for a Defensive LIneman you think with the fourth rounder and after and then go for depth a DB, LB and if available an offensive guard.

Posted by: Kevin | Apr 24, 2010 8:15:56 AM

I think the Panthers did a great job with these picks. You never know for certain how things will work out but it definitely sounds like they addressed needs and with Edwards they just might have an exciting and unpredictable offense for a change. GO PANTHERS!!

Posted by: winpanthers | Apr 24, 2010 8:49:30 AM

kudos to hurney and fox for hitting it out of the park IMO so far this draft .. to get Clausen at 48, and how he is going to fit into this system is nothing short of a miracle .. Brandon LaFell (whom nobody is talking about but was arguably a STEAL in the 3rd as well) was logically the best WR for their system this entire draft class, dude is a beast of a blocker and has a great set of hands ..i think they finally have moose's replacement to boost their running game .. AND , last but not least , armanti edwards is going to light a serious fire into this franchise. the man can do it all and well.. i think it'll be looked at as a steal selection , even as high as bottom of a 3rd a few years from now.. even though he's drafted as WR/KR he truly gives them so many options (qb, wildcat, WR, RB, return man), is the most highly underrated and gifted athlete to come out of the draft in a long time. not to mention is a high character guy and basically at the very least fixes our return game INSTANTLY... its a little early, but these Carolina Panthers appear to have stolen 3 in a row ..they have to be considered now a serious contender in 2010 and years to come..

Posted by: NJPanther | Apr 24, 2010 8:54:17 AM

I was happy with the first two picks, but...Edwards? A project drafted at least a round early that costs us next years second to move into late in the third round? By my count, that cost us two rounds of player quality.

I wasn't against getting Edwards, but we could've waited. And kept next years second.

Hurney's ego is getting the best of him. A future first for a first in Otah was a good move...that's value. A future first for Brown...bad. We could've had a better DE with that pick this year. Now this one is beyond logic. Second round picks have big value...just ask the Pats.

Posted by: David | Apr 24, 2010 9:01:48 AM

Calm down people. Remember some other QBs that switched positions. Antwaan Randle El, Seneca Wallace, Matt Jones(minus the cocaine issues), Ronald Curry, Kordell Stewart was Slash at first. This guy is a football player, period!

Posted by: Nazalli | Apr 24, 2010 9:18:49 AM

clausen may be a good value but he contributes nothing for how many years.i expect moore to do well.now you have a q.b controversy and you still need a vet.moore is getting disrespected again.then you give up a #2 for a kick returner? the wildcat is already a passing fad.a head scratcher.

Posted by: raydaz | Apr 24, 2010 9:26:24 AM


I fully agree with your article. This will be a day of lore in Panthers history when we went from a Ho-Hum solid offense to a fully stocked and deadly aggressor. What is not to love. You have a fantastic backup QB in Clausen who removes the need for a Veteran backup QB. Two young and healthy QBs are now on your roster. There will be no need to carry a third QB now with Armanti Edwards as an emergency QB and wildcat formation.
You now have a tall WR for the back corner endzone post with Armanti and Smitty scurrying in the middle of the field for a defense that needs to be honest and stack guys upfront to stop Stewart and Williams.
OUTSTANDING DRAFT. Now lets trade for a DT or DE to complete one of the most remarkable NFL team transitions.

Posted by: tylerkad | Apr 24, 2010 9:33:51 AM

People all in a uproar over a 2nd round pick which can be recouped next year plus we will get compensation for peppers. We need to focus on this year. Panthers are doing a great job despite all the negative backlash of fair weather fans and a beat writer who rights a article about the lack of maturity of Jimmy Clausen when he has the opportunity to be more positive and about the team's decision.

Posted by: Bobby | Apr 24, 2010 9:38:25 AM

To clarify I was speaking of Tom Sorensen article

Posted by: Bobby | Apr 24, 2010 9:41:24 AM

Seriously why isnt anyone talking about what a great pick Lafell is? I think he can come right in and start.

Clausen is a great pick because of his talent for the spot we got him, plus now we dont have to go out and trade for a FA (potentially).

Edwards? Well a lot of people raised cain about a litte KR named Smith when we drafted him in Rd 4 of 2002. Look how that worked out. Now we get a KR, WR and QB all with one pick.

Seriously people, some of you are just malcontents, we filled three big need positions without giving up a whole lot to do it.

Posted by: manu4t | Apr 24, 2010 9:44:12 AM

Its nice to have 1st round quality at QB finally. Claussen should be OK too... All D from here on out DL DE OLB.

Posted by: Frank | Apr 24, 2010 9:45:26 AM

If you want to know about LaFell, then look at this clip:


Some bad language at the end, but watch the hit.

LaFell was the best blocking WR in the draft, and has put up good numbers for three years in a run-first offense at LSU. He runs good routes, has good hands (although I hear they're on the small side for a receiver), he's physical, and he's a leader. He also made big play after big play for the Tigers, and he did it against DBs in the SEC, which is another way of saying a lot of future NFL DBs. He's got big game experience (caught the go-ahead TD in the BCS National Championship Game a couple years back), and only one fumble (that wasn't lost) in three years as a starter.

He's not a sprinter, he's no track star, but he's an NFL-ready wide receiver who needs to wear Moose's number in the Pros, it just fits.

Posted by: Ben | Apr 24, 2010 9:49:44 AM

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