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Published: April 24, 2012 at 03:26 p.m.
Updated: April 24, 2012 at 07:49 p.m.

Best 2012 NFL Draft prospects by position

It’s finally draft week, and let me guess, you haven’t been studying. That’s OK, as a master of Cliff’s Notes, Adam Rank, provides a quick look at the top draft picks at each position in the 2012 NFL Draft.

14 Photos Total

  • Quarterback 14

    Quarterback

    Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M
    Andrew Luck, Stanford
    Robert Griffin III, Baylor
    Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State
    Kirk Cousins, Michigan State

    Andrew Luck has long been considered the top option for the Colts. ... The Redskins paid a heavy price to trade for the No. 2 pick in the draft so that they can select Robert Griffin III. ... Ryan Tannehill has shot up the draft boards of quarterback-starved teams. ... Brandon Weeden is a hot prospect, but many teams are wary of his age (28). ... Kirk Cousins has impressed scouts with his skills and will be considered in the middle rounds.

  • Running back 13

    Running back

    LaMichael James, Oregon
    Lamar Miller, Miami (Fla.)
    Trent Richardson, Alabama
    David Wilson, Virginia Tech
    Doug Martin, Boise State

    Trent Richardson has been compared favorably to Vikings running back Adrian Peterson. ... Doug Martin rushed for 43 touchdowns in his final three seasons at Boise State. ... Davis Wilson is a tough runner who also has a future as a kick returner in the NFL. ... One potential steal who could go late in the first round is Lamar Miller, who rushed for 1,272 yards and nine touchdowns for Miami in 2011. ... LaMichael James had a prolific career at Oregon, rushing for more than 5,000 yards and scoring 53 touchdowns in three seasons.

  • Wide receiver 12

    Wide receiver

    Stephen Hill, Georgia Tech
    Michael Floyd, Notre Dame
    Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State
    Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina
    Kendall Wright, Baylor

    Justin Blackmon is considered the top receiver in the draft is a two-time winner of the Fred Biletnikoff Award, given to the nation's best wideout. ... Some believe Michael Floyd could sneak past Blackmon as the first receiver drafted in 2012. ... Kendall Wright overcame a poor showing at the NFL Scouting Combine and is still expected to be drafted in the first round. ... Stephen Hill amazed onlookers at the combine with his blazing speed, which has teams moving him up their draft boards. ... Alshon Jeffery is a big-bodied receiver who excels in the red zone.

  • Tight end 11

    Tight end

    Coby Fleener, Stanford
    Dwayne Allen, Clemson
    James Hanna, Oklahoma
    Orson Charles, Georgia

    Coby Fleener is considered the top tight-end prospect in the draft; having played with Andrew Luck doesn't hurt. ... Dwayne Allen was the 2011 John Mackey Award winner, given to the best collegiate tight end. ... Teams looking for an Aaron Hernandez-type should take a look at Orson Charles. ... Ladarius Green made a name for himself with five receptions for 121 yards against San Diego State in the New Orleans Bowl. ... James Hanna can burn defensive backs when left unchecked and is likely to be picked late in the third round.

  • Offensive tackle 10

    Offensive tackle

    Mike Adams, Ohio State
    Cordy Glenn, Georgia
    Matt Kalil, USC
    Jonathan Martin, Stanford
    Riley Reiff, Iowa

    Matt Kalil has long been expected to be the first offensive lineman drafted. ... Riley Reiff is best suited for right tackle, but has the size and physical skills to switch to the left side in the future. ... Mike Adams has been compared to Alex Barron and has tremendous upside for a team willing to take a risk. ... Jonathan Martin has great quickness and possesses the lateral ability to be a long-term success. ... Cordy Glenn has the skills to be a tackle at the NFL level, but might play best at guard.

  • Guard 9

    Guard

    Amini Silatolu, Midwestern State
    David DeCastro, Stanford
    Brandon Brooks, Miami (Ohio)
    Kevin Zeitler, Wisconsin
    Kelechi Osemele, Iowa State

    David DeCastro is expected to be the first guard off the board, picked somewhere in the top 20. ... Kevin Zeitler is a typical Wisconsin lineman in that he craves contact. ... Amini Silatolu is the latest Division II prospect who looks to make the jump to the NFL. ... Kelechi Osemele is a bulldozer of a run-blocker who compares favorably to Carl Nicks. ... Brandon Brooks will be a huge presence on the offensive line.

  • Center 8

    Center

    David Molk, Michigan
    Peter Konz, Wisconsin
    Michael Brewster, Ohio State
    Philip Blake, Baylor
    Ben Jones, Georgia

    Peter Konz is considered the best center prospect in the draft and is expected to be the first center drafted. ... Philip Blake earned recognition blocking for Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III. ... Ben Jones impressed coaches at the Senior Bowl with his strength and leadership. ... David Molk was the Big Ten lineman of the year. ... Michael Brewster has the size and strength to be a dominant pass-blocker.

  • Defensive end 7

    Defensive end

    Nick Perry, USC
    Quinton Coples, North Carolina
    Courtney Upshaw, Alabama
    Vinny Curry, Marshall
    Chandler Jones, Syracuse

    Quinton Coples, who registered 7.5 sacks and 55 tackles in his senior season, is the top defensive-end prospect in the draft. ... Courtney Upshaw was a key member of Alabama's dominant defense. ... Nick Perry led the Pac-12 with 9.5 sacks, the highest total by a USC lineman since 2007. ... Chandler Jones has drawn comparisons to Ray Edwards. ... Vinny Curry stood out at the Senior Bowl, constantly overpowering offensive tackles.

  • Defensive tackle 6

    Defensive tackle

    Kendall Reyes, Connecticut
    Fletcher Cox, Mississippi State
    Dontari Poe, Memphis
    Jerel Worthy, Michigan State
    Michael Brockers, LSU

    Fletcher Cox can use his great agility to shed blockers and be a disruptive force up the middle. ... Jerel Worthy, built in the mold of a Tank Johnson, will be an immediate starter in the NFL. ... Michael Brockers is leaving after his sophomore year and has some of the highest upside in the draft. ... Dontari Poe turned heads at the combine when he benched 225 pounds 44 times. ... Kendall Reyes has the size and speed to develop into a top-flight defensive tackle. ... Devon Still, who is often compared to Ty Warren, will go late in the first round.

  • Outside linebacker 5

    Outside linebacker

    Melvin Ingram, South Carolina
    Ronnell Lewis, Oklahoma
    Andre Branch, Clemson
    Shea McClellin, Boise State
    Whitney Mercilus, Illinois

    Melvin Ingram, who has looked unblockable at times, has the great closing speed, hustle and quick hands needed to beat opponents. ... Shea McClellin gained nationwide fame when he recorded 2.5 sacks against Georgia in the 2011 season opener. ... Whitney Mercilus led the nation with 16 sacks and nine forced fumbles. ... Andre Branch has an uncanny knack for beating blocks and moving past linemen, and has the burst to close once he's there. ... Ronnell Lewis excels as an outside linebacker and with his hand in the dirt.

  • Inside linebacker 4

    Inside linebacker

    Dont'a Hightower, Alabama
    Keenan Robinson, Texas
    Luke Kuechly, Boston College
    Sean Spence, Miami
    Mychal Kendricks, California

    Luke Kuechly led the nation in tackles in 2010 and 2011, and he walked away with the Butkus Award, given to the country's best linebacker. ... Dont'a Hightower is a tall, thick linebacker with great athleticism. ... Mychal Kendricks ran the fastest time in the 40-yard dash among linebackers. ... Keenan Robinson was a three-year starter for Texas who has the ability to run down ball-carriers. ... Sean Spence stood out for the Miami defense in 2011.

  • Cornerback 3

    Cornerback

    Morris Claiborne, LSU
    Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina
    Josh Robinson, Central Florida
    Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama
    Janoris Jenkins, North Alabama

    Morris Claiborne, considered the top cornerback prospect available, is expected to be a top-five pick. ... Stephon Gilmore is a tall cornerback who should be able to match up with the taller receivers in the league. ... Dre Kirkpatrick is a big, physical receiver who likes contact and was one of the leaders of Alabama's championship defense. ... Janoris Jenkins is talented, but questions about his past could harm his draft position. ... Josh Robinson has drawn favorable comparisons to Lito Sheppard.

  • Safety 2

    Safety

    Harrison Smith, Notre Dame
    DeQuan Menzie, Alabama
    Mark Barron, Alabama
    Brandon Taylor, LSU
    Phillip Thomas, Syracuse

    Mark Barron is considered the best safety available in the draft, with good instincts and the overall athleticism needed to excel in zone coverage. ... Scouts appreciate that Harrison Smith has the size and athleticism to match up with tight ends downfield. ... LSU coach Les Miles chose Brandon Taylor to wear No. 18, given to the player who best represents what it means to be an LSU Tiger. ... De'Quan Menzie needs to improve, but he was a playmaker for the brilliant Alabama defense in 2011. ... Phillip Thomas is adept at reading opposing quarterbacks' eyes and is not shy about making contact.

  • Punters and Kickers 1

    Punters and Kickers

    Drew Butler, Georgia
    Brian Anger, California
    Carson Wiggs, Purdue
    Blair Walsh, Georgia
    Shawn Powell, Florida State

    Brian Anger gets great hang-time on his punts, often enough to force fair catches inside the 20-yard line. ... Drew Butler is an exceptional punter and is adept at holding the ball on special teams. ... Blair Walsh set an NCAA record by recording at least one field goal in 45 games. ... Shawn Powell led the Football Bowl Subdivision with a 47-yard average on punts. ... Carson Wiggs kicked a 67-yard field goal in Purdue's spring football game.

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