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NFL Draft 2012: Comparing Offensive Positions with the 2011 Class

Dan SnyderCorrespondent IApril 11, 2012

NFL Draft 2012: Comparing Offensive Positions with the 2011 Class

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    With the draft season upon us, it's time to look back and remember those classes that have passed us by. 

    The 2011 class saw a lot of highlights, including a record breaking season from the draft's No. 1 overall pick. Cam Newton paved the way, but players like A.J. Green and Julio Jones solidified the class's explosiveness and fire power. 

    So how do the 2012 draft hopefuls compare to last season's? Click next and find out. 

Quarterback

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    Best of 2011: Cam Newton (1st), Andy Dalton (2nd), Christian Ponder (1st), Jake Locker (1st), Blaine Gabbert (1st), T.J. Yates (5th)

    Best of 2012: Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill

    There's no question the top end of the 2012 draft has some serious talent. Andrew Luck has drawn comparisons to the legendary John Elway, and RGIII is a phenom in his own right. 

    But the 2011 class was one of the best in recent years. Seven rookies started games for their teams and two first-year signal callers led their teams to the playoffs. 

    That doesn't even mention Cam Newton's record breaking 4,051 passing yards. 

    Decision: 2012 Draft Class will seize the day...by a nose. 

    Although 2011 saw four quarterbacks off the board in the first 32 picks, the depth in 2012 might just be a little bit better. 

    Guys like Arizona State's Brock Osweiler and Arizona's Nick Foles have a lot of promise. 

    Couple that with the top end talent of Luck and Griffin and you have the makings of some serious starting potential in this league. 

Running Back

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    Best of 2011: DeMarco Murray (3rd), Mark Ingram (1st), Daniel Thomas (2nd)

    Best of 2012: Trent Richardson, Lamar Miller, Doug Martin, David Wilson

    2011's class of running backs was a disappointment to say the least.

    Mark Ingram, the class's lone first-rounder, missed the last four games of the season and was a platoon back at his best.

    DeMarco Murray was probably the draft's best back after exploding on the scene around midseason. Murray also wasn't able to finish the year after a broken ankle ended his rookie campaign.

    The 2012 draft looks a little more promising.

    The top end talent is much better this year, as Trent Richardson is most likely going to be gone in the first 10 picks. A few backs like Lamar Miller and Doug Martin could also end up as first rounders.

    Decision: The 2012 class raises the title. 

    Not only is the top end talent better, but depth far out-duels their predecessors. Guys like Bernard Pierce, David Wilson and LaMichael James will truly tell the story of this draft.

Wide Receivers

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    Best of 2011: A.J. Green (1st), Julio Jones (1st), Torrey Smith (2nd), Denarius Moore (5th), Titus Young (2nd)

    Best of 2012: Justin Blackmon, Michael Floyd, Stephen Hill, Kendall Hunter, Rueben Randall

    The 2012 wide receiver class is very deep and could host up to five first-round picks. But they aren't anywhere close to the two receivers picked in last year's top 10. 

    A.J. Green and Julio Jones were serious prizes and it cost the Falcons a ton to move up and grab Jones.

    But after Jones was off the board at six, there was a pretty sizable drop-off in production.

    Decision: 2011's two stars carry the class

    The star power of Green and Jones was just too much to overcome, and with the offense Titus Young plays in, his numbers could soar.

    If the Chiefs could ever get a decent passer out there, Jonathan Baldwin might just be able to live up to his potential.

    I do think guys like Blackmon, Floyd and Hill could all have nice careers, but I also think there are a lot of overrated receivers this season. Hunter and Randall don't really stand out to me and there's really not a star in this draft.  

Tight End

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    Best of 2011: Kyle Rudolph (2nd)

    Best of 2012: Coby Fleener, Orson Charles, Dwayne Allen

    There wasn't much to write home about when it came to the 2011 tight ends. Kyle Rudolph was the only real player of any kind of note.

    This season looks a little more interesting. Coby Fleener has established himself as most likely the number one guy and could be off the board by the end of round one.

    Dwayne Allen and Orson Charles should be prime second-round targets and UL Lafayette end Ladarius Green could end up being a great sleeper for someone.

    Decision: 2012 by a landslide

    This decision wasn't even close. Rudolph would probably be the third or fourth ranked tight end had he been in this season's draft.

    Fleener, Charles and Allen could all be starters for teams next season with the expanding role of tight ends.  

Offensive Tackle

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    Best of 2011: Tyron Smith (1st), Nate Solder (1st), Anthony Costanzo (1st), Marcus Gilbert (2nd)

    Best of 2012: Matt Kalil, Riley Reiff, Mike Adams, Jonathan Martin

    In 2011, six offensive tackles were taken in the first 32 picks. Tyron Smith, the first tackle off the board, had an impressive first season and Marcus Gilbert became the Steelers second-best lineman in his first season. 

    But for all the picks, there wasn't really a standout left tackle stud. Smith, Solder, Costanzo and Gilbert all played the right side and weren't assigned as blindside blockers. 

    Matt Kalil heads up the 2012 class, and he's an absolute stud. He's the reason Tyron Smith was playing the right side at USC and is almost positively a top-five pick.

    Riley Reiff could also find himself as a left tackle in this league.

    Decision: 2012 class edges out 2011 with their left tackles

    Kalil is a guaranteed left tackle, and it looks like that's where Riley Reiff is headed as well. But Mike Adams might also find himself as a blindside protector.

    He has as much talent as anyone in the draft, but just hasn't lived up to it.

    The 2011 class is probably going to be deeper, but I doubt there will ever be a true left tackle to come from that draft.  

Interior Linemen

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    Best of 2011: Mike Pouncey (1st), Danny Watkins (1st), John Moffitt (3rd)

    Best of 2012: David DeCastro, Cordy Glenn, Kevin Zeitler, Peter Konz

    Two interior linemen were taken in the first round of 2011, but really only Maurkice Pouncey was that effective. John Moffitt started every game for the Seahawks and was a very solid player. 

    But the 2012 class is pretty stacked inside. 

    This draft could see three guards and a center taken in the first round if all things go right. 

    Decision: 2012 easily victorious

    David DeCastro is the best guard to enter a draft since Steve Hutchinson left Michigan. He's probably a top-10 talent who should be gone in the first 20 picks. 

    Cordy Glenn was a tackle at Georgia but will play better in the NFL at guard. 

    Zeitler and Konz were road graders at Wisconsin and are personal favorites of this author. 

    The guards could also see a few sleepers in Miami (OH)'s Brandon Brooks and Miami (FL)'s Brandon Washington, as well. 

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