Quarterback Cam Newton is the favorite of oddsmakers to be taken with the No. 1 overall pick in tonight’s National Football League draft.
The Carolina Panthers have the top pick in the draft and may choose Newton after scoring a franchise-low 196 points during last year’s 2-14 season.
Newton, 21, won the Heisman Trophy as college football’s best player in 2010 while leading Auburn University to an undefeated season and national championship. He’s the 1-2 favorite to be drafted No. 1 overall, according to Antigua-based Internet sports book Bodog.com.
“The first pick definitely brings a sense of urgency to get a player who will impact your football team,” Panthers General Manager Marty Hurney said during a news conference. “That pick and that player will get a lot more attention than other picks you’ve made in your career.”
University of Alabama defensive lineman Marcell Dareus is the second-favorite to go No. 1, with 3-2 odds. University of Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert has 10-1 odds of being the top pick, followed by Louisiana State cornerback Patrick Peterson at 12-1, according to Bodog.
The top-rated college players, according to ESPN’s Scouts Inc., are Dareus, Peterson, Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller and Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green.
“We’ve tried to answer a lot of questions about a lot of guys,” Panthers first-year coach Ron Rivera said. “We’ve asked our scouts to do a lot of work.”
Dating back to Peyton Manning in 1998, quarterbacks have been taken No. 1 overall in 10 of the past 13 years.
The St. Louis Rams took quarterback Sam Bradford with the first pick last year and the Detroit Lions made Matthew Stafford the No. 1 selection in the 2009 draft.
“It’s a quarterback league,” said Hurney. “That position has always been the most important on your football team -- he’s the guy who handles the ball on every snap -- but the importance has increased even more in recent years.”
The last non-quarterback taken No. 1 overall was offensive tackle Jake Long by the Miami Dolphins in 2008. The last defensive player drafted first was lineman Mario Williams by the Houston Texans in 2006.
The Denver Broncos have the second overall pick tonight at Radio City Music Hall in New York.
The first round begins at 8 p.m. New York time, while the second and third rounds are set for tomorrow. The draft concludes April 30 with the final four rounds.
Bills Pick Third
The Buffalo Bills hold the No. 3 pick, followed by the Cincinnati Bengals, Arizona Cardinals, Cleveland Browns, San Francisco 49ers, Tennessee Titans, Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins.
The New York Giants have the 19th choice and the New York Jets have the 30th selection in the opening round, which concludes with picks by the Pittsburgh Steelers and Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers.
FIRST ROUND DRAFT ORDER ======================= 1. Carolina Panthers 2. Denver Broncos 3. Buffalo Bills 4. Cincinnati Bengals 5. Arizona Cardinals 6. Cleveland Browns 7. San Francisco 49ers 8. Tennessee Titans 9. Dallas Cowboys 10. Washington Redskins 11. Houston Texans 12. Minnesota Vikings 13. Detroit Lions 14. St. Louis Rams 15. Miami Dolphins 16. Jacksonville Jaguars 17. New England Patriots 18. San Diego Chargers 19. New York Giants 20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 21. Kansas City Chiefs 22. Indianapolis Colts 23. Philadelphia Eagles 24. New Orleans Saints 25. Seattle Seahawks 26. Baltimore Ravens 27. Atlanta Falcons 28. New England Patriots 29. Chicago Bears 30. New York Jets 31. Pittsburgh Steelers 32. Green Bay Packers