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2012 NFL Draft: Pegging the Biggest Next-Generation Players

Josh ToyofukuContributor IIIJanuary 17, 2012

2012 NFL Draft: Pegging the Biggest Next-Generation Players

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    Each NFL draft brings its own allure thanks to the high-caliber players who are in it. The 2012 NFL Draft will be no different.

    Amongst the hundreds of players who will be drafted from April 26th through April 28th, a few stand out as candidates to be iconic players during our generation. The list isn't huge because we are talking about players who will become the best of the best—but there certainly is one.

    So let's take a look at the players who could define the next 10 years of football in the NFL.

Robert Griffin III

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    Quarterback, Baylor

    During his time at Baylor, Robert Griffin III proved to the nation that he isn't just a pair of legs who can run—he can throw the ball. And he has a Heisman Trophy to back himself up.

    Last season at Baylor, Griffin threw for 4,293 yards with an amazing completion percentage of 72.4 percent. Griffin also threw 37 touchdowns, compared to six interceptions, giving him a passer rating of 189.5. 

    There's little doubt that Griffin will succeed in the NFL thanks to his great accuracy when throwing the deep ball and his athleticism when moving in and out of the pocket. He's also only going to get stronger and build his frame.

Morris Claiborne

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    Cornerback, LSU 

    Morris Claiborne is the best defensive prospect in the 2012 NFL Draft, hands down.

    Speaking of his hands, his are great. Combined with his athleticism, he moves like a wide receiver in the secondary. Claiborne can track the ball very well and can run with the best wide outs in the game.

    He is just as good—if not better—than former teammate and current Arizona Cardinal Patrick Peterson, and he's definitely a better coverage corner than his current teammate Tyrann Mathieu.

    Much like Peterson, Claiborne is an electrifying returner. In 2011, he averaged 25 yards per return and returned one kick 99 yards for a score.

    2011's Jim Thorpe Award winner will be a great player in man-to-man coverage and will soon be one of the most feared corners in the NFL.

Andrew Luck

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    Quarterback, Stanford 

    What else can you say about Stanford's Andrew Luck? Everything has already been said.

    Well, I'll try to add a little more to that.

    Luck is the best college quarterback prospect since John Elway. In case you forgot, he was being projected as the No. 1 overall pick in last year's NFL draft.

    He has a great arm and vision on the field that is combined with an unparalleled work ethic and leadership ability. In the past two seasons, he has completed over 70 percent of his passes while compiling a passer rating of at least 169. In 2011, he set the Stanford record with 37 TD passes.

    He's a can't-miss prospect and will be a feared player in the NFL, joining the ranks of the league's greatest.

Justin Blackmon

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    Wide Receiver, Oklahoma State 

    Justin Blackmon possesses a great combination of size, speed, athleticism and power—all the tools that will help make him one of the premiere wide receivers for years to come. 

    Blackmon can get above almost anyone in the opposing secondary to make catches. He also has the ability to break tackles and extend receptions.

    Last year at Oklahoma State, Blackmon caught 121 passes for 1,522 yards and 18 touchdowns en route to his second Biletnikoff Award and All-American selection.

Kellen Moore

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    Quarterback, Boise State 

    You might be wondering, "Why Kellen Moore? How is he going to be an elite player during our generation after playing for a Mountain West school?" Well, I guarantee you aren't the only one.

    But just take a look.

    Kellen Moore led the nation in completion percentage (74.3 percent) and threw his 100th touchdown in Week 1 of the 2011 season. He has won more NCAA games than any other quarterback in history and was the first quarterback to win 50 games in FBS history. And starting in 2012, the Kellen Moore Award will be given to the best quarterback of the year.

    Moore also had a chance to take his Boise State Broncos to two national championship games, had a field goal not been missed in critical games each of the past two seasons.

    Moore finished 50-3 in his collegiate career, including a 7-3 record against ranked opponents. He also went 3-1 in bowl games and could have won the fourth had yet another field goal not been missed.

    Tell me why you wouldn't want this guy on your team. He's a stud.

    The only problem is that he is just six-feet tall. But hey, Drew Brees is only six feet, and he's one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. Granted, Moore doesn't have the arm strength that Brees has, but in a West Coast offense and with some adjustment time, Moore can succeed. 

    All it will take is one chance in the NFL, and Kellen Moore can prove to everyone that he can be a great player at the next level.

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