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Insider

Five elite players atop board

4/9/2012 - NFL Alabama Crimson Tide Baylor Bears Boise State Broncos Arizona Cardinals Atlanta Falcons Baltimore Ravens Buffalo Bills Carolina Panthers Chicago Bears Cincinnati Bengals Cleveland Browns Dallas Cowboys Denver Broncos Detroit Lions Green Bay Packers Houston Texans Indianapolis Colts Jacksonville Jaguars Kansas City Chiefs Miami Dolphins Minnesota Vikings New England Patriots New Orleans Saints New York Giants New York Jets Oakland Raiders Philadelphia Eagles Pittsburgh Steelers San Diego Chargers San Francisco 49ers Seattle Seahawks St. Louis Rams Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tennessee Titans Washington Redskins Appalachian St. Mountaineers Arizona State Sun Devils Arizona Wildcats Arkansas Razorbacks Boston College Eagles California Golden Bears Central Florida Knights Cincinnati Bearcats Connecticut Huskies Florida State Seminoles Florida Gators Georgia Bulldogs Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Iowa Hawkeyes Iowa State Cyclones Kansas Jayhawks Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns LSU Tigers Marshall Thundering Herd Memphis Tigers Miami (FL) Hurricanes Michigan State Spartans Michigan Wolverines Mississippi Rebels Mississippi St. Bulldogs Missouri Tigers Montana Grizzlies N.C. State Wolfpack Nebraska Cornhuskers North Carolina Tar Heels Notre Dame Fighting Irish Oklahoma Sooners Oklahoma State Cowboys Oregon Ducks Penn State Nittany Lions Stanford Cardinal Syracuse Orange Texas A&M Aggies USC Trojans Vanderbilt Commodores Virginia Cavaliers Virginia Tech Hokies Wake Forest Demon Deacons Washington Huskies West Virginia Mountaineers Wisconsin Badgers + more

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.