2012 NFL Mock Draft: Which Positions Are Strongest, Weakest in Draft?

Jon DoveContributor IJanuary 8, 2012

TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 05:  Morris Claiborne #17 of the LSU Tigers against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 5, 2011 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The 2012 NFL draft class features a lot of elite talent. However, some positions have a much deeper talent pool than others. A key to determining the overall strength of a position is depth, meaning that there needs to be a lot of top-level talent and good late-round prospects.

Some positions in the 2012 draft are very top-heavy, lacking many players capable of making a difference. It is difficult for even the most talented prospect to carry the entire position. For example, Stanford's Andrew Luck isn't enough to elevate the quarterback position to the top.

This year's deepest and strongest position is cornerback, featuring as many as five first-round prospects. The position is lead by LSU's Morris Claiborne, who could find himself coming off the board in the top three of the draft.

Claiborne possesses the ability to shut down the opponent's top target and lock down his side of the field. He also does a good job reading the quarterback's eyes and breaking on the football while possessing the ball skills needed to pull down the interception.

Alabama's Dre Kirkpatrick is the No. 2 cornerback on my board. His length and toughness could make him a potential top-10 selection. Kirkpatrick's versatility will also make him a highly sought-after prospect, as he could fit multiple schemes.

These two players give the cornerback's elite talent. However, it's the depth that really puts this position above the rest. Nebraska's Alfonso Dennard, North Alabama's Janoris Jenkins and South Carolina's Stephon Gilmore all appear likely to come off the board in Round 1.

Defensive end is the 2012 NFL draft's weakest position. The top defensive end prospect is North Carolina's Quinton Coples, who may not crack the top 10. Coples possesses a lot of physical talent, but he has an inconsistent motor and questionable production.

The next top two defensive ends can also be classified as outside linebackers. Melvin Ingram and Whitney Mercilus both might actually be better fits at outside linebacker. However, a 4-3 defense of team could potentially select either player.

There's a good possibility that Coples is the only prospect selected in the first round who will be targeted to play defensive end. The rest of the class features hit-or-miss type prospects. Virginia's Cam Johnson and Clemson's Andre Branch are the type of inconsistent players that will make up the later round defensive end prospects.