NFL draft: Most have Newton going first Thursday night

NFL draft projections are in full gear, one day before the real thing kicks off Thursday at 8 p.m. in New York. Auburn's Cam Newton is the number one choice on several NFL draft board mockups.

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    In this Nov. 13, 2010, file photo, Auburn quarterback Cam Newton warms up prior to an NCAA college football game against Georgia at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala. Newton is a top prospect in the upcoming NFL Draft. Many observers have him going first in NFL mock drafts.
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The annual college player selection process that is the National Football League draft kicks off Thursday night in New York.

But before that, draft gurus have made their projected picks for all 32 teams. More than one veteran observer has the Panthers selecting Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Cam Newton of Auburn with that first pick.

However, there are some who feel like Carolina is already well-stocked at the quarterback position and has other needs to be filled with the draft.

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A record number of incoming NFL rookies are expected at New York's Radio City Music Hall for the draft's first round. Rounds 2 and 3 take place on Friday evening and Rounds 4-7 will occur on Saturday afternoon.

The 75th annual draft will be taking place three days after a federal judge told NFL owners to stop their player lockout, following a collapse of federally mediated bargaining back on March 11.

Plans were already in place for the NFL Draft to go ahead this week, despite the stalled negotiations over a new collective bargaining agreement between the owners and players. But Judge Susan Nelson's decree late Monday certainly puts the NFL calendar for the rest of the Spring in limbo.

As for the top collegiate players, the draft is hopefully the first of many proud moments in their professional careers, standing with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on the New York stage, wearing their draft team's cap and holding that team's jersey.

The first team to select a player will be the NFC's Panthers, after suffering through a two-win season in 2010 and seven years removed from an appearance in Super Bowl XXXVIII.

This year's two Super Bowl teams, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers, will make picks number 31 and 32, respectively, to end Thursday night's first round of the NFL Draft. But there are many rumors swirling, and the Bleacher Report, among others, speculates that the Steelers will try to trade up to get a shot at Florida offensive lineman Mike Pouncey. Pouncey's twin brother already plays for the Steelers.

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