NEW YORK (WCSC/AP) - Summerville alum AJ Green was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals Thursday with the fourth overall pick in the NFL Draft from Radio City Music Hall in New York.
The Carolina Panthers selected Auburn quarterback Cam Newton with the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft, gambling that the Heisman Trophy winner will overcome questions about his character and work ethic to become the first franchise quarterback in team history.
Defensive end Robert Quinn of North Carolina, a Fort Dorchester High grad, was taken by the St. Louis Rams with the 14th pick overall. Quinn finished with 86 tackles and four forced fumbles in his NCAA career.
Green, the former Green Wave star and Georgia Bulldogs wide receiver averaged almost 100 yards and over a touchdown a game this season despite missing four games after he was suspended for selling his jersey from last year's Bowl Game.
Green finished his career at Georgia with 166 catches for 2,619 yards and 23 touchdowns.
A year after going 2-14 with the NFL's worst offense, the Panthers on Thursday night bypassed safer selections such as Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus and LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson for Newton, who dazzled in his only season playing major college football.
"Man, it's a great feeling to be up here," said Newton, the third straight quarterback taken first overall. "It's a great feeling to be a Carolina Panther."
The 6-foot-5, 248-pound Newton accounted for 50 touchdowns and led the Tigers to the national championship last season despite an NCAA investigation that his father concocted a pay-for-play scheme during his recruitment.
Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers could also be a first round selection. He finished his career with 150 tackles for the Tigers.
While the league's labor dispute played out in the courts, Thursday night's NFL draft carried on. Moments before the Auburn quarterback's name was called by Roger Goodell, frustrated fans showered the NFL commissioner with chants of "We want football. We want football."
Goodell responded with a smile, saying, "I hear you. So do I."
Things got a little more surreal when Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller became the second pick, selected by Denver. Miller, a plaintiff in the antitrust lawsuit players filed to block the lockout, strode across the stage with tears in his eyes and hugged Goodell.
It was a strange opening for what normally is a festive occasion. In this offseason of labor strife, 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.
But the lockout could be back in place if the NFL wins an appeal. If that happens, Newton, Miller and all the players chosen Thursday night would be thrown back into a labor limbo.
For now, they will be allowed to report to their teams, meet coaches and get playbooks. Contract negotiations are uncertain until the league announces its rules for the 2011 season — rules that might be in force for only a short time if an appeal is granted.
The draft was never in danger of being held because it was protected under the old collective bargaining agreement that expired in March.
Buffalo selected Alabama nose tackle Marcell Dareus, who gave Goodell an even bigger hug. Of course, Dareus weighs 308 pounds, about 70 more than Miller — and at least 100 more than Goodell.
Arizona, also in need of a quarterback, selected the top cornerback available, Patrick Peterson of LSU.
The labor strife caused speculation not many trades would be made Thursday. But just six picks in, Atlanta cut a massive deal with Cleveland and moved up from No. 27 to grab Alabama receiver Julio Jones — the fifth Southeastern Conference player in the first six.
The Browns received the Falcons' first-rounder, second- and fourth-rounders, plus their first pick and fourth-rounder in 2012.
San Francisco chose defensive end Aldon Smith of Missouri to bolster a weak pass rush, then the second quarterback was selected: Washington's Jake Locker to Tennessee.
Dallas went for offensive tackle Tyron Smith of Southern California with the ninth pick.
Jacksonville saw a chance to get its future quarterback and moved up six slots for Missouri's Blaine Gabbert, dealing its first-round pick and a second-rounder to Washington.
"You really don't have any idea where you will go, especially with the lockout," Gabbert said. "But the trades are happening now."
Houston bolstered its weak defense with Wisconsin end J.J. Watt at No. 11.
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