Rant Sports 2013 NFL Mock Draft: Baltimore Ravens Select Manti Te'o at No. 32

By Thomas Emerick

With the 32nd overall pick in the Rant Sports 2013 NFL Mock Draft, the Baltimore Ravens select Notre Dame inside linebacker Manti Te’o.

Many draft experts have the Ravens taking an offensive tackle here, as it makes sense to give your handsomely paid franchise quarterback the best blindside protection money can buy. Since I’m not supremely confident that any of the options available could do much to keep Joe Flacco clean over the coming decade, I decided to just bypass that position at pick No. 32.

It’s also been made painfully clear over the years that moving Michael Oher back to left tackle and starting a new right tackle just won’t cut it. Plus, in this hypothetical scenario where I am Ozzie Newsome, I find a way to bring back Bryant McKinnie and hope to get at least one more solid year out of him at blindside while exploring other present and future options.

At the inside linebacker spot, there are players remaining that you can plug at the top of next season’s depth chart and sleep OK this offseason. I was really hoping Georgia‘s Alec Ogletree would fall here, which I acknowledge would be a bit of wishful thinking on my part, but there were two really good choices to fill the heart of Baltimore’s 3-4 in Te’o and LSU linebacker Kevin Minter.

Baltimore’s no small town, but I’m not worried about the media fervor that would come with a top-five market like New York or Chicago. Perhaps Ravens teammates and fans might have some reservations about him aiding and abetting the proliferation of overly gushy, under-researched human interest stories last year, but that will evaporate completely if he performs like a first rounder between now and January.

There are doubts that Te’o can keep up in coverage at the NFL level. Baltimore got by with Ray Lewis as a major liability in this department towards the end of his career and I do think Te’o could provide an immediate upgrade. Te’o won’t operate downhill like Lewis right now or probably ever, but he does possess the instincts to effectively fill the void left by Lewis and Dannell Ellerbe. With Jameel McClain‘s recovery from spinal issues and Rolando McClain‘s off-field issues leaving questions about how they will contribute in 2013, it wouldn’t shock me at all if the Ravens took multiple inside linebackers in this April’s draft.

Joined the party halfway through? Well the Kansas City Chiefs selected…

Thomas Emerick is a Senior Writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ThomasEmerick, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google

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