This draft was no party.
Between the boos raining down on Commissioner Roger Goodell and the uncertainty created by a bitter labor battle, the NFL draft opened Thursday night lacking much of its usually festive atmosphere.
What it wasn’t missing was intrigue and surprises _ at least after the Carolina Panthers made Cam Newton the first pick.
The Auburn quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner as expected went to the worst team in the league _ and vowed to fix that immediately. Newton led Auburn to an undefeated season and its first national championship since 1957.
“I’m ready to change this whole organization around, to go from worst to first,” he said. “Just being a Panther is the most special part about this.”
Goodell was booed as he prepared to conduct a moment of silence for victims of the devastating storms that ripped through the South. He responded to their chants of “We want football!” by saying, “I hear you. So do I.”
With the second pick, Denver took Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller, a plaintiff in the antitrust lawsuit filed by the players to block the lockout imposed by the owners.
“I’ve never had anything against Roger Goodell,” Miller said. “I just want to make sure football continues to get played. When I walked across the stage, I was meeting the commissioner. That was it.”
Thanks to a judge’s ruling in the lawsuit Miller is involved in, the league’s first work stoppage since 1987 temporarily ends Friday. The 32 teams will resume business in compliance with U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson’s order to lift the lockout.
Super Bowl champion Green Bay concluded the 31/2-hour first round by taking Mississippi State tackle Derek Sherrod.