2012 NFL Draft Order: 5 Players the Green Bay Packers Should Target in 1st Round

Matt SteinCorrespondent IIJanuary 4, 2012

2012 NFL Draft Order: 5 Players the Green Bay Packers Should Target in 1st Round

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    The Green Bay Packers are expected to have the last, or one of the last, picks in the 2012 NFL draft.

    With a few holes on both sides of the ball, it will be interesting to see how GM Ted Thompson will handle the draft after another successful year. Will he look for the best available player? Or will he stretch to pick a player that fills a need?

    Here are five players the Packers should target with their first-round pick.

Jared Crick, DE, Nebraska

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    Jared Crick started the 2011 season much higher on most draft boards, but has fallen due to injuries and poor performances in the first half of the season. His height is also considered a negative point to his game.

    However, Crick has a great motor, and never gives up on plays. Before this season, he showed great ability at getting after the quarterback. He would also be an ideal fit for the Green Bay Packers' 3-4 defense.

Chris Polk, RB, Washington

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    It may seem crazy for the Green Bay Packers to go after a running back in the first round, especially when you consider they spent a high pick on Alex Green in 2011.

    Still, with Ryan Grant, James Starks, Brandon Saine and Green, the Packers have still be unable to get consistent production in the ground game. Chris Polk of the Washington Huskies could change that with his powerful running style.

    He has also improved his receiving skills, and could be a valuable receiver to add to Green Bay's arsenal.

Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse

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    Chandler Jones would be more of a developmental player for the Green Bay Packers. 

    He has a unique blend of size, speed and strength, but he is coming off an injury in his junior year and still needs time to learn how to best utilize his skills. He would likely spend limited time on the field in his rookie year, but could become a excellent pass-rusher for the Packers rather quickly.

    Jones is currently projected as a second or third-round prospect, but a strong offseason heading into the 2012 draft could propel him much higher on team's draft boards.

Andre Branch, DE, Clemson

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    Even though Andre Branch might be better suited for a 4-3 defense, I believe he has enough talent and potential to become a great pass-rusher in a 3-4 defense. The first round may be a little high for Branch, but if the Green Bay Packers like what they see, they would have to take him.

    Branch has all the tools necessary to excel at the next level, but there still needs to be some development to his game. He might not become the next Mario Williams, but he will likely to turn out to be a solid starter who posts great numbers year after year.

    The Packers desperately need to figure out how to put more pressure on the quarterback, and Branch may very well be their man.

Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina

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    This would absolutely be the riskiest pick for the Green Bay Packers, but it could also have the most reward.

    Quinton Coples is a uniquely-gifted player who could literally take the NFL by storm if he wanted to. The problem is that he hasn't shown the desire to do so.

    Coples started the year as a top-10 player, and has fallen into the second, or third, round in many mock drafts. He's got major character issues, including an NCAA investigation into a post-draft party.

    Since Green Bay usually shies away from prospects like Coples, this pick seems unlikely, but the Packers might also take the risk believing that they can get the most out of him.

    If Coples can turn his attitude around, he could truly be a special prospect for the Packers.