Heading into this college football season, Matt Barkley was the clear-cut No. 1 overall pick and it wasn’t even close. USC was supposedly going to breeze through their 2012 campaign, and ultimately it would come down to a battle between them and LSU for a National Title. At that point in time, some combination of Barkley and LSU’s highly-touted defensive prospects dominated the first seven picks.
Things done changed.
Over the last two months, USC has gotten exposed. Barkley, an early Heisman favorite, proved himself incapable of being the sort of quarterback who could lift a team to new heights. Yes, the Trojans were overrated and it’s unfair to punish Barkley for that – but it’s going to happen anyway. NFL teams are going to remember what the expectations heading into this season were, and they will remember how USC collapsed underneath the weight of those expectations.
LSU’s Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery have experienced similar dips on people’s rankings. When the year began, Mingo was considered a potential No. 1 overall pick. Everyone expected him to pick right up from where he and his team left off last year, but it just hasn’t happened. He and Montgomery are nice, sure, and they’ll undoubtedly still go top 10, but they haven't dominated the defensive prospects discussion up to this point like a lot figured they would.
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Before we dive into our mock draft, a few points of note: 1.) The draft order was determined by ESPN’s most recent power rankings. Obviously things will change as the season progresses, but that is the structure we opted to use for now. 2.) We didn’t hold anyone’s performances from this weekend against them. (These guys have long résumés, there is no need to pick and choose individual outings.) Finally, 3.) We weighted team needs over best player available whenever it was clear that a team had a really glaring hole. In the case of teams that didn’t have particularly glaring holes, we emphasized best player available.
With all that in mind, check out picks Nos. 1-7 here.