Carolina On My Mind: Crowded Panthers Quarterback Situation Benefits Tony Pike

Ryan CookFeatured ColumnistApril 25, 2010

NEW ORLEANS - JANUARY 01:  Quarterback Tony Pike #15 of the Cincinnati Bearcats throws a pass against the Florida Gators during the Allstate Sugar Bowl at the Louisana Superdome on January 1, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

No one expected a great deal out of the Carolina Panthers on Draft Day.  A rather quiet offseason, capped off by the departure of key defensive end Julius Peppers, left Panthers fans wondering just where their once promising team was headed and whether or not they can muster up enough talent and skill to once again rally in the NFC South.

Now that the draft is well and truly in the books, Carolina can look toward what they hope will be a more-than-promising future.  Key issues still arise for Carolina, predominantly on defense, but it is important that John Fox sorts out just who his starting quarterback will be. 

Much like the Denver Broncos, the Carolina Panthers have a quarterback situation that needs addressing, and although Matt Moore seems to be the heavily favored starter at this point in time, a case could be made for both Jimmy Clausen and Tony Pike.

All three are inexperienced players.  Matt Moore, having only played a handful of snaps in professional football, does look rather promising, and given Carolina's recent offensive struggles, he does seem like the most sensible option to place as the starter.

But what about Jimmy Clausen and Tony Pike?  The former Notre Dame and Cincinnati starting quarterbacks arguably know the game of football, but still have noticeable questions surrounding them in terms of whether or not they will excel in an already capacity-filled quarterback league.

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Points can be made for both quarterbacks in terms of how stable they really are and what skills they do feature, but right now, the quarterback position in Carolina isn't as secure for Matt Moore as it once was. Personally, I see this as a prime opportunity for Jimmy Clausen or Tony Pike to jump in.

Tony Pike

Tony Pike brings a range of skills to the field.  He is one of the most underrated quarterbacks taken in the draft, and much of this is due to his lack of playing time with the Bearcats.

With this said, Tony Pike's ability puts him among the elite few that really feature "the full package."  Size-wise, Tony isn't the biggest guy around town, but unlike many small quarterbacks, he uses that to his advantage.

When the going gets tough, Tony Pike gets going, and you only have to look at the fact that Tony Pike had to claw his way to the top of the Bearcats starting quarterback roster to realize that he does know what it's like to be on the losing end of a deal.

Aside from Tony's past, it's the promising future that he brings.  Accurate passes on short-to-intermediate routes are Pike's forte, and he also has a knack of keeping calm when the pocket begins to close in.

Realistically, Pike isn't good for a deep ball-type throw, but this should suit Carolina just fine, as Steve Smith is notorious for his short hook and square routes linking up with the quarterback.

The final point to be made about Pike is that he is highly motivated.  Pike has already stated that he is excited to be competing in such as quarterback-filled environment, and to my knowledge, this benefits Tony immensely, as he knows how to win the starting role.

Can he start for the Panthers?  Of course. He's considered the greatest Bearcat of all time, so why can't he fit the Panthers mold?  The answer to that is: He can and, most likely, will.  Tony Pike looks promising.

Jimmy Clausen

Jimmy Clausen wasn't expected to be taken in the second round. But unfortunately, his draft stock plummeted, and he found himself, along with Colt McCoy, eagerly awaiting his final destination.

Finally, the Panthers rang his number, and Clausen was the newest quarterback in blue and silver. 

Skill-wise, Clausen brings a lot to the table.  After watching tape of his time with Notre Dame, it is clear that he knows how to find wide receivers and deliver extremely accurate passes to established wideouts such as Golden Tate.

This suits Carolina just fine, as Steve Smith knows how to get open and make the big play.  The only issue that surrounds Clausen is whether or not he can truly handle the NFL

Notre Dame is, of course, a massive football school, but Jimmy has had the luxury of being surrounded by gifted athletes for most of his college career.  Stepping onto a team like Carolina may give Jimmy a hard lesson in what it's like to cope with a struggling team.


Overall, a convincing argument could be made for either quarterback. But as for who is most ready, the edge goes to Tony Pike.  He's won and lost in his time with Cincinnati, and although Clausen has experienced his fair share of heartbreak, Tony Pike knows for sure just what it's like to claw his way to the top.

Skill-wise, I also think Tony Pike takes the cake.  He's a well-rounded quarterback that can be depended on to make timely throws, and accurate ones at best.  Size is an issue, but it's nothing a change of diet and workout couldn't solve.

For those getting ready to leave a comment saying, "Matt Moore is the starter," that could quite likely be the case.  However, if all falls to shreds, one of these two rookies will have to step up.  Right now Tony Pike is the better option.

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