Rant Sports 2013 NFL Mock Draft: First-Round Collaborative

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Welcome to the Rant Sports 2013 NFL Mock Draft

NFL Draft
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In less than one week, the 2013 NFL Draft will commence. As a final lead-up to draft day, Rant Sports has decided to put together a group of NFL writers to mock the first 32 picks, starting with the Kansas City Chiefs and ending with the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens at the end of the first-round.

Like just about any mock draft, there are some interesting picks and questionable slides that you’ll find as you make your journey from end to finish. While a few players come off of the board way too early, others tumbled down the draft in ways that are hard to understand, even when it actually happens during the real deal.

Keep in mind that, like the real NFL teams, many players are valued differently by different teams. While one team may see a particular player as an elite prospect worthy of a Top 5 selection, others might see that same player as a second-round talent. The same rings true for our writers, who did their due diligence in preparing for this mock draft. That doesn’t excuse all of them, though…

Just for sanity purposes, no trades were allowed during this mock draft. You best believe, though, that on draft day, there will be several moves that make fans gripe and groan. Then again, those blockbuster deals have paid off in recent years – just look at the Atlanta Falcons and Washington Redskins.

At the bottom of each slide is a link to the writer’s analysis of the pick, so make sure to check out their own thoughts. Don’t be afraid to give them your thoughts, too.

So here it is. After hours of hard work, I give you the Rant Sports 2013 NFL Mock Draft. Enjoy!

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1. Kansas City Chiefs – Luke Joeckel

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The consensus No. 1 pick this year, Joeckel makes plenty of sense for the rebuilding Chiefs. Especially with left tackle Branden Albert on the trading block and a decent quarterback under center, Kansas City needs a blindside protector to build their offensive line around. Enter Joeckel.

Jesus Flores’ reasoning behind the pick…

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2. Jacksonville Jaguars – Geno Smith

Rob Christy-USA TODAY Sports

What a bust quarterback Blaine Gabbert has turned out to be for the Jaguars. The team, already an annual disappointment, needs a quality quarterback who can do more than create turnovers. By drafting Smith, they take the top passer in the 2013 class who has the potential to ignite the Jacksonville offense.

Joey Farbo’s reasoning behind the pick…

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3. Oakland Raiders – Sharrif Floyd

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

With the worst roster in the NFL, the Raiders need to start adding some significant talent if GM Reggie McKenzie wants to keep his job. Although I’m a bit skeptical about Floyd’s elite-ness, he has the potential to be a disruptive force at defensive tackle. Either way, he’s an instant upgrade for Oakland.

Joshua Walfish’s reasoning behind the pick…

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4. Philadelphia Eagles – Dee Milliner

Crystal Logiudice-USA TODAY Sports

The departure of Nnamdi Asomugha this offseason left the Eagles short at cornerback. Even with the addition of Cary Williams, Philadelphia still needs to add some young talent to the mix. Milliner is the top cornerback of the class and will contribute from Day 1. A bit of a reach, though, for a corner.

Connor Muldowney’s reasoning behind the pick…

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5. Detroit Lions – Eric Fisher

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

For years, Matt Stafford’s development has been stunted by the lack of capable pass blocking. While there are plenty of directions for the Lions to go with the No. 5 overall pick, nabbing arguably the top talent in this draft class while giving Stafford an elite blindside blocker makes plenty of sense.

Connor Muldowney’s reasoning behind the pick…

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6. Cleveland Browns – Chance Warmack

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With Trent Richardson in the backfield, the Browns are ready to implement a power running game that features the former first-round pick. What better fit than Warmack, a power blocking guard who resembles a bulldozer. It’s a stretch for a guard, but the talent warrants the high draft pick.

Ryan Ruiz’ reasoning behind the pick…

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7. Arizona Cardinals – Matt Barkley

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

You found it! It’s the first major reach of the Rant Sports 2013 NFL Mock Draft. Especially with so many holes in the roster and Carson Palmer in the fold, I’d think the offensive line would be the primary concern. Still, if the Cardinals like Barkley, they’d be better off reaching than letting him go elsewhere.

Bob Kaupang’s reasoning behind the pick…

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8. Buffalo Bills – Cordarrelle Patterson

Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

While wide receiver is far from their biggest needs, the Bills could use some extra playmakers on the offensive side of the ball. There’s a good chance that Buffalo goes quarterback at No. 8, but adding an electrifying pass-catcher like Patterson would definitely help, too.

Scott DelleFave’s reasoning behind the pick…

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9. New York Jets – Dion Jordan

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It’s been quite some time since the Jets have had a dynamic playmaker on defense. Considered by many to be a Top 5 talent, Jordan would be a tremendous steal for Gang Green at No. 9. The Jets fielded one of the worst pass rushes in 2012, but Jordan would provide a quick turnaround in that department.

Jon Presser’s reasoning behind the pick…

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10. Tennessee Titans – Ezekiel Ansah

Douglas C. Pizac-USA TODAY Sports

Personally, I think Jonathan Cooper is a much better fit right here considering how awful the Titans’ run blocking was in 2012. But the pick is Ansah, who is also an intriguing prospect. Despite his rawness, the BYU product has enough upside to solve Tennessee’s problems at defensive end.

Anthony Denmark’s reasoning behind the pick…

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11. San Diego Chargers – Lane Johnson

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

It’s do-or-die for Philip Rivers, who has one more year to prove that he can still be a franchise-caliber quarterback. One way that the Chargers can help him is by adding an elite blindside blocker. Johnson can be that type of left tackle, but might not slide this far down the draft considering his talent level.

Kenny Gardner’s reasoning behind the pick…

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12. Miami Dolphins – Xavier Rhodes

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

While the Dolphins upgraded at just about every position this offseason, there’s still plenty of room for improvement at cornerback. Rhodes has the potential to be the best corner to come out of the 2013 draft class, using his physical playing style and instincts to make his presence felt. Rhodes is a steal at No. 12.

Stephen Conway’s reasoning behind the pick…

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13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Desmond Trufant

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Even though the Buccaneers are still trying to work out a deal for Darrelle Revis, they could choose to just use their first-round pick to draft a new, healthy cornerback. Tampa Bay fielded the worst pass defense in the league, and need to add some better pieces to the secondary. Trufant could do the trick.

Ben Grimaldi’s reasoning behind the pick…

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14. Carolina Panthers – Sheldon Richardson

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Even with the recent additions at the position, defensive tackle has been a huge sore thumb for the Panthers. It’s promising for the team that the 2013 draft class is so deep at the position, meaning that an elite talent should still be available at No. 14. In this case, Richardson falls into their laps.

Jeff Everette’s reasoning behind the pick…

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15. New Orleans Saints – Barkevious Mingo

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

This pick is more common than Joeckel to the Chiefs at No. 1. The Saints have remade their defense, and Mingo appears to be a perfect fit at outside linebacker in Rob Ryan’s 3-4 attack. The athleticism is there, but the boom-bust potential should be concerning since the defense is still on the mend.

Alejandro Aviles’ reasoning behind the pick…

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16. St. Louis Rams – Tavon Austin

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Ever since Sam Bradford has been the Rams’ starting quarterback, St. Louis has failed to surround him with capable receivers. While their depth is solid, they need a top-flight pass-catcher who can be Bradford’s go-to guy on a weekly basis. Austin has all of the talent they could want in a slot receiver.

Anthony Blake’s reasoning behind the pick…

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17. Pittsburgh Steelers – Jarvis Jones

Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

If Jones gets all the way down to the Steelers at No. 17, Pittsburgh will rejoice as their representative sprints up to the podium with pick in hand. Jones is a tremendous fit for the Steelers’ 3-4 defense, and would help them get over the departure of James Harrison. Two thumbs way up.

Clyde Speller’s reasoning behind the pick…

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18. Dallas Cowboys – Jonathan Cooper

Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

For years now, the Cowboys’ offense has been inconsistent at best, due in large part to a lack of blocking. If Tony Romo is to make the most of his new, overpriced contract, Dallas would be wise to add the best offensive lineman available. At No. 18, Cooper is a huge steal.

Mark Stringer’s reasoning behind the pick…

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19. New York Giants – Bjoern Werner

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At once considered a Top 5 talent, Werner’s stock has slipped a bit. Don’t be fooled, though; Werner has the skills to be an immediate impact defensive end in the NFL. His production was phenomenal in 2012 and he still has plenty to learn. Werner’s ceiling is really high, which makes him ideal for the Giants.

Chris Hill’s reasoning behind the pick…

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20. Chicago Bears – D.J. Fluker

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Trust me when I say that the addition of Jermon Bushrod is not going to be enough to keep Jay Cutler upright consistently in 2013. With Gabe Carimi turning out to be a bust, Chicago needs to add a right tackle like Fluker who can protect the quarterback and help the Bears establish a running game.

Dale Casler’s reasoning behind the pick…

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21. Cincinnati Bengals – Tyrann Mathieu

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If you were looking for a James Carpenter-sized reach, here you go. The Bengals went slot cornerback with Mathieu, who many believe won’t come off of the board before the third round. He hasn’t played football in some time and is far from a polished product. Let’s hope this doesn’t happen on April 25.

James Rapien’s reasoning behind the pick…

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22. St. Louis Rams – Kenny Vaccaro

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

With both of their starting safeties from 2012 no longer on the roster, Vaccaro makes a ton of sense for the Rams. Many believe that he’s the top safety in the 2013 draft class, so landing him at No. 22 is a dream come true. The Rams get away off with two huge steals in the first round.

Anthony Blake’s reasoning behind the pick…

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23. Minnesota Vikings – Alec Ogletree

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The most glaring need on the Vikings’ roster right now is middle linebacker, a spot that has almost no starting experience available at the moment. Adding a player like Ogletree, however, would be a huge step in the right direction. He’s an NFL-caliber linebacker who also excels in coverage, a fit for the Vikings’ Tampa 2 defense.

My reasoning behind the pick…

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24. Indianapolis Colts – Star Lotulelei

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I admit that I kind of overlooked Lotulelei at No. 23, but the slide ends here with the Colts. Lotulelei has the potential to be an elite defensive tackle and is arguably one of the top defensive talents in the 2013 draft class. The Indianapolis front gets an immediate upgrade and Star joins a young, on-the-rise team.

Curt Popejoy’s reasoning behind the pick…

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25. Minnesota Vikings – Keenan Allen

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The signing of Greg Jennings didn’t make up for the loss of Percy Harvin, leaving Christian Ponder little to work with in the passing game. Especially with two first-round picks, Minnesota needs to add some more arrows to the unproven passer’s quiver before he lands in the “bust” category. Allen fits the bill.

My reasoning behind the pick…

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26. Green Bay Packers – Eddie Lacy

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The Packers haven’t had a reliable running game since Ahman Green. Wow, that says a lot. If they ever hope of taking some of the pressure off of Aaron Rodgers and the passing game, Green Bay needs to add a legitimate runner via the 2013 NFL Draft. Lacy is the workhorse and No. 26 isn’t a huge reach.

Curt Popejoy’s reasoning behind the pick…

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27. Houston Texans – Terrance Williams

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Andre Johnson is no longer a spring chicken. It won’t be long before he won’t be able to carry the Texans’ passing attack. If Houston hopes to make the transition as painless as possible for Matt Schaub and Co., adding a talent like Williams to the mix would be smart.

Aaron Dartez’ reasoning behind the pick…

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28. Denver Broncos – Kawann Short

Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports

Do you get it? Good, I don’t either. While Short is one of the better defensive tackle prospects of 2013, the Broncos left several more-worthy talents on the board with this pick. They ignored Sylvester Williams and Johnathan Hankins, instead reaching for Short, who is still an unfinished product.

Craig Moir’s reasoning behind the pick…

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29. New England Patriots – Damontre Moore

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I’m not sure that I fully understand this pick, but I’ll give it a try. Since the start of pre-draft activities, Moore has gone from a Top 10 to second-rounder round talent. He doesn’t have the athleticism, quickness around the edge or versatility to fit Bill Belichick’s defense. Okay, well that was a fail.

Simon Greene’s reasoning behind the pick…

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30. Atlanta Falcons – Johnthan Banks

Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

The Falcons have a big need at cornerback, and will likely be targeting the best one still available at No. 30. While there are some other candidates still on the board, Banks is an intriguing option who fits their scheme and has the physical tools to develop into a No. 1 corner. Maybe Trufant will fall on draft day…

Michael Collins’ reasoning behind the pick…

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31. San Francisco 49ers – DeAndre Hopkins

Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

It looks like the 49ers could use another wide receiver to add to logjam at the position. The team already used their 2012 first-rounder to reach for A.J. Jenkins, who was a non-factor throughout his rookie season. There’s already solid depth at the position, but more definitely makes sense, right?

Tony Graham’s reasoning behind the pick…

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32. Baltimore Ravens – Manti Te’o

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The loss of Ray Lewis will have a ripple effect on the franchise for years to come. Even with several replacements on the roster, the Ravens still need a leader type who can fill the void and be the defensive field general. Te’o has the leadership skills and experience with hardship to be the new voice of Baltimore.

Thomas Emerick’s reasoning behind the pick…

Gil Alcaraz IV is a Content Planner/NFL Featured Columnist for Follow him on Twitter @GilAlcarazIV, like him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.