NFL Preview 2011: Cam Newton Will Make Jimmy Clausen a Better QB

Eli Nachmany@EliNachmanyCorrespondent IIIMay 19, 2011

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 02:  Quarterback Jimmy Clausen #2 of the Carolina Panthers looks on from the sidelines during the game against the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on January 2, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Jimmy Clausen has gone from top quarterback prospect, to sliding into the second round, to being replaced after less than a year.

Despite what you may say about Clausen's attitude, talent level, or football IQ, he's gone through the most adversity in the NFL of any rookie quarterback from 2010.

Clausen has watched his entire team turn against him, his numbers plummet off the charts and the team that drafted him a year ago recently draft his replacement.

The Golden Domer may not be the most talented, but he's had his fair share of ups and downs in a very short time in the NFL, and it is time to see what will happen.

In Clausen's case, the phoenix may rise from the ashes, and the Notre Dame product will realize his ability.

Cam Newton, Carolina's new golden boy, wants to wear Clausen's No. 2, but Clausen isn't too keen on giving up the number.

While a uniform digit may seem trivial, stranger things have motivated NFL players to outdo themselves on the gridiron.

Clausen has ability—finding that ability is the key for Clausen.

With Newton the favorite to win the starting spot in Carolina, Clausen is under no pressure to win the job.

No longer is he the new rookie with shine around him—Clausen, in this case, is the veteran.

After being drafted first overall, it's evident that the job is Newton's to lose, but Clausen can settle into a spoiler-type role in which he has nothing to lose.

It may be just what the "veteran" needs.

Conceivably, the Panthers will do all they can to build an offense around Newton's strengths, and Clausen's best-case scenario may be to simply parlay his situation into a starting job elsewhere.

Some possible destinations for Jimmy Clausen include Washington where another Notre Dame quarterback named Joe Theismann became a franchise legend, or Arizona where, if the asking price for Kevin Kolb is too high, the team may take a chance on Clausen.

Seemingly, the young quarterback just needs a fresh start, and if Cam Newton's success in the face of Clausen's failure can inspire Clausen to work harder, then everyone benefits.

The young Notre Dame graduate will benefit for a quarterback-needy market, and if any of Blaine Gabbert, Jake Locker, or Christian Ponder fall on their face, a more-experienced, harder-working Clausen could be an attractive option.

Clausen was thrust into a bad situation in Carolina, and suffered because of it.

His team went down with injuries, the players around him underachieved, and he was put in the limelight too early, stunting the maturing process that all young signal-callers experience.

Clausen is able to make a good amount of throws, but he will never be an elite passer in the NFL.

He doesn't need to be elite, but rather, above average, and he can carry a team for a good amount of years.

One bad rookie season shouldn't spell the end for Clausen, who never got time to figure it out.

With a year under his belt, look for the sophomore quarterback to surprise some people in 2011 with a renewed sense of focus and work ethic that we've never seen from him before.

Maybe it took a team crumbling around him, a 2-14 record, and a new draftee threatening for his job to get Clausen to care.

Or, maybe it just took him losing his jersey number.