Five elite players atop board

The 2012 draft is not top-heavy, but there is depth down the board

Updated: April 9, 2012, 6:48 PM ET
By Todd McShay | Scouts Inc.

The 2012 NFL draft class has some clear headliners at the top of the board, but how does the talent level overall look up and down the board?

This draft tiers document -- which breaks down the top 100 players on my board into groups based on grade -- is helpful in answering that question, both for teams and fans.

The tiers show which portions of the class are deep and which are lean. There are some lean tiers near the top of the board, but the class is solid in Tiers 3 and 4.

The tiers are also a good tool for teams considering a trade. For instance, a team toying with the idea of trading back in the first round can judge whether a player from Tier 2 on its board will still be available with its new selection, or if it will be stuck with a Tier 3 player at that point.

These tiers can help when trying to identify where there is depth -- or a lack thereof -- at certain positions. This year, the tiers show that offensive tackle is lean after Tier 4, so we can expect the players from the top three tiers to be selected even more quickly than usual.

Elsewhere, the depth of the defensive tackle class can be seen in Tiers 5, 6 and 7; Tier 6 also has a lot of intriguing talent at quarterback and running back, and the depth of the wide receiver and cornerback classes shows up in a big way in Tier 7.

Here's my seven-tier breakdown of the top 100 prospects in the 2012 class, listed in order of draft grade.