It seems like forever ago that Matt Barkley and LSU’s highly-touted defensive prospects were projected to go in the top five of this year's Draft. Mind you, this was right around the time when USC was a preseason No. 1 and LSU supposedly boasted the best defense in the nation. Things have changed a lot over the past three months.
USC got exposed badly this year. A lot of that was admittedly the result of bad coaching, but Barkley, an early Heisman favorite, proved himself incapable of being the sort of quarterback who could lift a team to new heights, too. NFL teams are going to remember what the expectations heading into this season were, and they will remember how USC collapsed under the weight of those expectations.
LSU’s Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery were also at one point supposed to be top-tier selections. Now LSU will be lucky if one of them goes in the top ten. If someone told you a year ago that this draft would be dominated almost entirely by defensive talent, the natural assumption would be that Mingo and Montgomery would be selected within the first three picks. There is a reason why drafts are conducted at the end of a season and not the beginning.
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 that in mind, you can check out picks 8-15 here.