Panthers pick up Clausen

Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen was taken by the Carolina Panthers in the second round.

NEW YORK -- The big crowd at Radio City Music Hall for the second night of the NFL draft had to wait for the big names to go. They got a star-studded show while they hung around Friday.

Until Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen, Stanford's Toby Gerhart, Texas' Colt McCoy and Alabama's Terrence "Mount" Cody were selected, the audience was treated to Jim Brown, Dan Marino and Ray Lewis. Floyd Little, Rod Woodson and John Randle.

Unfortunately, they were announcing the selections, not being picked.

Eventually, those choices became high-profile, beginning with Fighting Irish QB Clausen at 48th overall -- more than 40 picks lower than some projected.

Clausen, a three-year regular under Charlie Weis, was 16-18 as a starter after being one of the nation's most sought recruits. The Panthers' choice drew scattered boos, but with Jake Delhomme gone and Matt Moore the incumbent, Carolina seems a good landing spot.

"I think it's going to help me tremendously, being in coach Weis' system," Clausen said of the offense run by John Fox in Carolina. "Coach Fox told me he said it was the same exact system I've played in the last three years. I'm really excited about that."

NFL draft consultant Gil Brandt noted that Clausen brought his team from behind four times to win -- and brought his team from behind four times and lost.

"He's an excellent football player, but he doesn't have great arm strength. That's all right though," Brandt said.

Clausen, the first Notre Damer chosen this year, kicked off a spurt of more recognizable selections -- and three All-Americans.

The first Southern Cal player, safety Taylor Mays, went to San Francisco, followed by Alabama cornerback-kick returner Javier Arenas to Kansas City, and Gerhart, the Heisman runner-up, to the Vikings.

Minnesota, which did not select Thursday night, traded up 11 spots in the second round for Gerhart, also a top baseball prospect. The Vikings needed a backup to star runner Adrian Peterson after losing Chester Taylor in free agency.

"I'm there to complement the best running back in the league, Adrian Peterson," Gerhart said.

McCoy finally was drafted, 85th overall, by Cleveland. That was one slot after his favorite target with the Longhorns, Jordan Shipley, went to Cincinnati.

"It has been a long day," McCoy said after speaking to Browns president Mike Holmgren. "I told him, 'You won't regret it and we'll win a lot of games.' "

Wideout Golden Tate, Clausen's college teammate, went 60th overall to Seattle.

Early on, instead of Heisman Trophy winners and All-Americans, the choices were Indiana tackle Rodger Saffold, Virginia cornerback Chris Cook, and UCLA defensive tackle Brian Price. Yes, quality players, but hardly headline makers.

Other notables on Day 2: Kansas City got a prime kick returner and receiving threat in 5-8, 165-pound Dexter McCluster of Mississippi; Alabama's 350-pound All-American defensive tackle, Cody, went to Baltimore.

The Panthers addressed another need in the third round, taking receiver Brandon LaFell of LSU. Then the Panthers gambled by trading next year's second-round pick to New England for an extra third-round choice.

Carolina then selected Appalachian State quarterback Armanti Edwards, whom the Panthers project as a receiver and return man.