The celebrated first round of the 76th NFL draft began with an even bigger bang than Cam Newton going number one overall to Carolina. In the wake of Judge Susan Nelson's rejection of a league requested stay of her injunction ending the lockout, the NFL acquiesed and agreed to throw open their doors on Friday. Players will be able to talk with coaches, enter facilities to work out, get their playbooks and seek medical treatment. Mandatory mini-camps, off-season workout programs and organized team activities can commence under rules of the expired collective bargaining agreement. The Detroit Lions have already scheduled a camp for next week. There was concern among players that the league would not abide by judge Nelson's ruling and possibly be in contempt of court. Packers defensive back Charles Woodson was quoted at a charity event in Ann Arbor, Michigan, "I guess if you're a billionaire, you can tell a judge no." Rules for player transactions are expected to be introduced by Monday, including trades and free agent signings. This could all come to another screeching halt however, pending a decision from the 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals. NFL lawyers have asked for a stay of Judge Nelson's ruling and will appeal her injunction if the stay is denied. Written arguments from the league are due May 10, the players have until May 24 to make their case with the league getting a chance to respond by May 31. A formal hearing would then be scheduled as soon as possible. The Packers are making plans to hold a rookie orientation camp the weekend of May 12-14. It's the NFL, open for business with plenty of asterisks.
As for the first half of round one, it looked like it would be the Southeastern Conference draft with 5 of the top 6 picks coming from the SEC. Mike Holmgren pulled off by far the biggest deal of the weekend, allowing Atlanta to climb up 21 spots in the first round to grab Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones at number 6. The Cleveland Browns get the Falcons' 27th choice tonight, plus a second and fourth round pick this weekend, AND Atlanta's first and fourth round picks next year. Wisconsin Badger J.J. Watt was taken number 11 by the Houston Texans and two division rivals made picks. The Minnesota Vikings are moving on from the failed Brett Favre experiment, not to mention the failed Tavaris Jackson era by taking Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder and that was followed by the Detroit Lions adding even more quality beef to their defensive line by taking Nick Fairley of Auburn to team with last year's defensive rookie of the year Ndomakong Suh. Come back later tonight for all the details on the Packers number one pick, the final choice of opening night.