2013 NFL Draft: 5 Best Picks of the First Round

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Top 5 First Round Picks of the 2013 NFL Draft

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Brad Penner - USA Today Sports

So the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft is in the books, the second round is underway, and the griping and moaning from millions of fans is at it's utmost height. Despite a few questionable calls (like letting Joe Namath actually speak into a microphone), and a few trades, the first round didn't go too far off what many had expected.

The order of the night in the first round was linemen; offensive, defensive, it didn't matter. Teams were picking guys who play hard and fast in the trenches and road plows to make way for their running backs.

Several prospects--Geno Smith, Manti Te'o, Tyrann Mathieu, and Eddie Lacy to name a few--who were thought to be solid picks to go in the first round, found themselves headed home without a jersey, and a with new found sense of humility.

But there were some outstanding picks in the first round. Some teams found bargains, and some teams made trades and moves so they could secure their coveted player. I don't know that any team came away from the first round not getting someone they wanted and/or needed.

Here are what I see as the top five picks in the 2013 NFL Draft.

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#5: Jarvis Jones (OLB, Georgia) - Pittsburgh Steelers

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Daniel Shirey - USA Today Sports

It wouldn't be an NFL Draft if the Pittsburgh Steelers didn't pick somebody from Georgia. At the 17th overall pick, Jarvis Jones turns them into the stealers. Jones was originally thought to be a top-10 pick, but poor performances at workouts and his Pro Day sent his draft stock down. Trust me when I tell you there are some guys who audition well, and some guys who bring it when the curtain goes up. Jones is going to turn heads for the Steelers, and will be the replacement the Steelers need for James Harrison.

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#4: Chance Warmack (OG, Alabama) - Tennessee Titans

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Brad Penner - USA Today Sports

The need for the Tennessee Titans was on the offensive line, to both protect QB Jake Locker and to create better holes for All-Pro RB Chris Johnson. The Titans got both in space-eating guard Chance Warmack. The Alabama offensive line was arguably the best in college football for a number of years, and Warmack was a big part of that. I love this pick for the Titans, and in what is a make or break year for Locker, it will make him breath easier.

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#3: Tavon Austin (WR, West Virginia) - St. Louis Rams

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Brad Penner - USA Today Sports

You want to know a big reason why Geno Smith was as highly regarded as he was in 2012? Look no further than WVU wide receiver Tavon Austin, the real playmaker of the Mountaineers offense. The St. Louis Rams needed to give QB Sam Bradford some support, and a vertical threat, and that's Austin from top to bottom. Not only can he stretch the field with his speed, but he's already accustomed to running plays from the backfield, end-arounds, and other plays to just get his hands on the ball. The Rams offense just improved immensely with this pick.

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#2: Eric Reid (S, LSU) - San Francisco 49ers

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Brett Davis - USA Today Sports

The San Francisco 49ers showed exactly why they've been to two straight NFC Championship games and a Super Bowl. They keep drafting smart, and using every pick to its maximum value. The 49ers moved up to the 18th pick (using a few of their 13 picks in a trade) to get a guy they had their eye on for some time. Eric Reid is probably the most underrated member of the highly publicized LSU defensive secondary which included Tyrann Mathieu and Morris Claiborne. The Niners defense, which already ranked in the top three in the league, just got better, and the NFC West just got a little tougher.

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#1: D.J. Hayden (CB, Houston) - Oakland Raiders

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Ed Szczepanski - USA Today Sports

How can anyone not love this pick and this story? Last year, in a Houston Cougars practice session, D.J. Hayden almost lost his life. After taking a hit to the chest, the main vein that pumps blood to his lower body was ruptured. This was not your everyday practice injury. The Houston team physician stated that 95% of people who suffer this injury (typically in car crashes or on military battlefields) die before receiving medical treatment.

Hayden's surgeon described the surgery as "having to sew together pieces of wet tissue paper", so it was no sure thing he'd even make it out of surgery.

Beyond the medical miracle that Hayden is since his recovery, he's also one heck of a defensive back. He's worked out for teams, showed he still has speed and ball skills, and will be a huge asset to the Oakland Raiders, who need some serious help on pass defense.

Only time and some on field hits will tell if Hayden is going to be the same outstanding player he was at Houston, but the Raiders were smart to take the chance.


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