The St. Louis Rams and Denver Broncos are putting a lot of their hopes (and money) into Sam Bradford and Tim Tebow, respectively, but that doesn’t mean either quarterback should see a single snap as a rookie.
If Bradford starts in St. Louis, he will get killed behind a bad offensive line. Instead, they should throw a veteran guy like A.J. Feeley in there for the year and allow Bradford to sit, learn, and wait for the offensive line to get better. Feeley has already taken his lumps and will cost the Rams a whole lot less than Bradford.
Tebow, unlike Bradford, has gone to a fairly decent team, but everyone knows he’s not ready to start. The kid has the intangibles to be a great NFL quarterback, but the mechanics aren’t there yet.
If they throw him in right away it’s going to ruin the remainder of his career — which will be purely as a backup/gadget player if he doesn’t learn how to throw a football properly, first and foremost.
Other big-name quarterbacks like Colt McCoy, John Skelton, and Tony Pike were all taken so late that they’re not expected to come in and start. McCoy could win the job outright in Cleveland, but there’s no rush for the third-round pick to take over immediately.
Jimmy Clausen, however, should be the starting quarterback when the 2010 season kicks off for the Carolina Panthers.
He was a second-round pick, so they’ve got a stake in him. If a team takes a quarterback in the second round, it’s because they envision him as a starter. See: Kevin Kolb.
Clausen, unlike the aforementioned quarterbacks, is in the perfect position to start right away. The Panthers don’t have an established starter, they have a very good offensive line (especially at the tackle spots), a great receiver in Steve Smith and a young talent like Brandon LaFell, and one hell of a running game in DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan “The Daily Show” Stewart.
Clausen is in a perfect position to get his playing time and still be able to ease himself into it. Williams and Stewart are more-than-capable of carrying the load for the first month or so while Clausen gets himself acclimated and they can open up the playbook for him. They might ask Clausen for 10-15 passes per game, but that’s going to be all he needs to feel things out and get comfortable.
Then, once he’s got a little bit of confidence, they can open things up and see what he can do.
Matt Moore played well in the latter half of the season last year, but let’s not get carried away. He was the best option they had until Clausen fell into their lap, so they supported him, but now it’s time to push the rookie into that starting spot and see what happens.
They’re going to do it eventually, so it’s best to just do it now for all the reasons we’ve already run through. In addition to all that, playing Moore for the 2010 season could just create a quarterback controversy down the road. The Panthers took Clausen in the second round, so he’s going to start sooner or later, but if Moore comes in and plays well it could make things rather difficult for them.
So start Clausen now, see what he can do, and maybe try to move Moore to a team that feels they can turn him into a starter. Worst case scenario, they keep him and have a great safety valve were something to happen to Clausen.