NEW YORK — It wasn’t an unexpected phone call, but Auburn quarterback Cam Newton said it stunned him just the same.
“Just to get that phone call, it was like a shock going through my body,” Newton said of a call from Carolina general manager Marty Hurney, who told Newton the Panthers had taken him with the No. 1 pick in Thursday night’s NFL draft in New York City. “I’m just blessed to be part of a great organization and I’m ready to get to work.”
The Panthers, 2-14 last season, hope to rebuild their franchise around the 2010 Heisman Trophy winner, who was one of six players from the state and two from Mobile to be selected in the first round Thursday.
The six first-round selections from Alabama matched the 2005 draft, when Auburn’s Ronnie Brown and Carnell Williams led another group of six first-rounders from the state.
After the Panthers took Newton and Denver took Texas A&M’s Von Miller at No. 2, Alabama defensive lineman Marcell Dareus went to Buffalo with the third pick, Crimson Tide receiver Julio Jones of Foley went to Atlanta at No. 6, Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley of Mobile went No. 13 to Detroit, Alabama offensive lineman James Carpenter was taken 25th by Seattle, and Alabama’s 2009 Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram went to New Orleans at No. 28.
The Saints took Cal defensive end Cameron Jordan with their first-round pick at No. 24, then traded their second-round pick this year and a first-rounder next year to New England to get Ingram.
“It was a long wait,” Ingram said moments after his selection. “I’m going to a great organization … and I hope to help them win another championship.”
Carpenter’s selection was one of the biggest surprises of the night. A two-year starter at left tackle for the Crimson Tide, he had been projected as a late second- or early third-round pick but boosted his stock with a strong week at the Senior Bowl, where he showed he could make the adjustment to guard.
Other surprises included Tennessee’s selection of Washington quarterback Jake Locker at No. 8 and Minnesota’s choice of Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder at No. 12. Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert was the other quarterback selected Thursday as he went to Jacksonville, which traded up to No. 10 to take him.
Locker and Ponder were among 12 first-round selections who played in the Senior Bowl.
As expected, the first round featured several trades, including a huge move by Atlanta to get Jones. The Falcons, who originally had the No. 27 pick, sent their first-, second- and fourth-round picks this year and first- and fourth-round picks next year to Cleveland in order to move up to No. 6.
“I wasn’t expecting them to trade up and come get me at six,” Jones told Wes Durham and Dave Archer of Falcons Radio%2