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NFL draft uncertainty compounded by lockout

NEW YORK - The NFL draft always is a guessing game. Never has it been accompanied by so much uncertainty.

Not just who will go first overall — the betting favorite is Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton — but who goes where and when beyond that? Will the Patriots trade down again and again, as they always seem to do? Or will the Jets trade up, as they normally do?

This year, the selection process has the added element of players being locked out by owners, and a judge temporarily blocking the lockout earlier this week. Should the league be forced to reopen for business before or during the draft, the result could be even more chaos. Complete NFL draft coverage Mock drafts Risers and fallers

NFL players urged a federal judge Wednesday to deny the league's request to essentially restore the lockout, saying their careers were at stake. Commissioner Roger Goodell, meanwhile, said owners were preparing for every contingency.

U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson is weighing a request from the owners for a stay, which means the injunction she issued to stop the lockout would be frozen during the appeals process.

The waiting game was on.

"You have to react to the judgment and make sure it's done in an orderly process," Goodell said Wednesday during a predraft event in New York.

Newton, whom most persons think the Panthers take with the first pick in Thursday's draft, didn't stick around for media interviews Wednesday at the NFL-sponsored event,'s Clark Judge reports. He did, however, participate in earlier activities with city children, throwing passes and making handoffs to kids who were there. But once the interviews started Newton left.

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