2012 NFL Draft Projections: Why Defense Could Dominate the First Round

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2012 NFL Draft Projections: Why Defense Could Dominate the First Round
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Morris Claiborne could end up as 2012's elite defensive prospect.

Upon a cursory glance at the surface of the 2012 NFL draft projection, it may seem unrealistic that defensive prospects could win out and carry the round.  How will players from that side of the ball compete with two franchise quarterbacks, one of the best running back prospects in the last six years, one or two receivers in the top 10, a franchise offensive tackle and another who could go in the top 10, along with the best offensive guard prospect in years?

The answer is depth.  While this year's defensive prospect crop cannot compete with its counterparts across the line of scrimmage in terms of high-end talent at the top of the draft, they could outnumber them after Thursday night, April 26, ends with the New York Giants selecting 32nd to conclude the first round. 

Consider that 15 defenders are currently considered locks, or very close to it given how far away we still are, and that another nine players are also possibilities to vault into a day one selection.  A reasonable result, if still unlikely due to how many weeks remain in the process, could see as many as 20 of the 32 picks in the opening stanza come on the defensive side of the ball.  Potential domination!

The next three slides will look at each level of the defense (linemen, linebackers and defensive backs) in order to identify, and briefly describe, all 24 players who could represent the defensive side of the ball in April's lottery.

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