Seven Players the Packers Should Target in the 2012 NFL Draft

Bob FoxContributor IJanuary 24, 2012

Seven Players the Packers Should Target in the 2012 NFL Draft

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    In this slideshow, I'm going to target seven players that the Green Bay Packers should want to have on their 2012 squad.  However, I'm going to do this a little bit differently.  I going to pick one player from each round.  This is basically a mock draft.

    I'm also going to select a different player than I did in my first mock draft, just to make things interesting, as one never knows how the draft board will shake out.

    I'll be basing my information on the various reports and videos that I have looked at regarding the players.  Plus, we just had the East-West Shrine game which was played last weekend.

    The Senior Bowl will be played this upcoming weekend.

    After that, we will have the 2012 NFL Combine and the Pro Day workouts where players try to improve their status in the draft.

1st Round: OLB Whitney Mercilus (Illinois)

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    Height: 6'4"

    Weight: 265

    40 Time: 4.65

    Whitney Mercilus is a player that can definitely rush the passer and also make big plays.  Mercilus played DE at Illinois, but he has the frame and speed to be a OLB in the 3-4 defensive scheme.

    Mercilus earned consensus first-team All-America honors at DE.  Mercilus also won the Hendricks Award as the nation's top defensive end, and was named the College Football Performance Awards National Defensive Player of the Year.

    In 2011, Mercilus had 16 sacks and a whopping nine forced fumbles.  Mercilus also had 22.5 tackles for losses.

    In addition to his pass rushing prowess, Mercilus was steady in his run defense, although he needs to do a better job shedding his blockers. 

    Mercilus would be a perfect bookend to Clay Matthews at ROLB for the Packers.

2nd Round: S Markelle Martin (Oklahoma State)

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    Height: 6'1"

    Weight: 200

    40 Time: 4.47

    Markelle Martin is a natural free safety who also doesn't shy away from the physical part of the game.  Martin was named to the All-Big 12 conference first team, and was named to the 2011 AFCA FBS Coaches’ All-America Team as well.

    Martin did not have any interceptions in 2011, but he did have 74 tackles, 11 passes broken up and two forced fumbles.  In 2010, Martin had three picks and 55 tackles.  Martin will play at the Senior Bowl this weekend for the South squad.

    Bottom line, Martin has good speed and covers a lot of ground in the secondary.

    The Packers won't know until March about the status of All-Pro S Nick Collins and whether he will be able to continue his career after suffering a season ending injury to his neck in week two.  Even if Collins can continue his stellar career, the Packers still need better quality depth at the safety position. 

    Charlie Peprah had five interceptions in 2011 filling in for Collins, but was a liability in coverage, plus missed some key tackles. 

3rd Round: DE Kendall Reyes (Connecticut)

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    Height: 6'4"

    Weight: 295

    40 Time: 4.90

    The Director of College Scouting for the Packers is John Dorsey.  Dorsey is a former LB for the Packers, who played his college ball at Connecticut.  The Packers should look to Dorsey's alma mater for some more defensive help in the 2012 draft.

    Why?  DE Kendall Reyes.  Reyes has nice size and also has nice quickness and speed.  Reyes was a first team All-Big East selection at DE.  Reyes had 46 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss and also had 4.5 sacks.

    Reyes was also a three year starter and a team leader with the Huskies.  Reyes will play at the Senior Bowl this weekend for the North squad.

    The Packers need to get some more pass rush ability from their defensive line.  The Packers only had six sacks from the D-line in 2011.

4th Round: C Quentin Saulsberry (Mississippi State)

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    Height: 6'2"

    Weight: 300

    40 Time: 5.10

    The Packers might go right back to the school where the team selected OT Derek Sherrod in the 1st round of the 2011 NFL draft.  C Quentin Saulsberry is a versatile offensive lineman who played C last year at Mississippi State and was named 2011 AP All-SEC conference honorable mention at C.

    Saulsberry has played four of the five positions on the offensive line, and the Packers love that type of versatility with their linemen.  In 2010, Saulsberry started at RG.  In 2009, Saulsberry started at LG.  As a freshman in 2008, Saulsberry started at RT.

    The Packers are working on getting C Scott Wells a contract extension.  Wells is one of the best offensive linemen on the team.  Wells is also a fiery leader.  But the Packers have to look to the future, as Wells is now 32 years old.

5th Round: RB/KR Chris Rainey (Florida)

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    Height: 5'9"

    Weight: 180

    40 Time: 4.33

    Chris Rainey will play at the Senior Bowl this weekend for the South squad.  Rainey is a very versatile athlete who has played RB, WR, KR and PR at Florida.  Rainey was named to the All-SEC first team in 2011 by the coaches.

    In 2011, Rainey rushed for 861 yards and had three TDs.  Rainey also caught 31 passes for 381 yards and two more TDs.  In addition to that, Rainey has blocked six punts in his career as a Gator, including one for a TD vs. Ohio State in this year's Gator Bowl.

    Rainey has explosive speed and can outrun just about anyone on the football field.  Rainey would add another dimension to the Packers' offense with his versatility and speed.

    The Packers will need to carefully examine the off-the-field issues that Rainey has had, which includes aggravated-stalking charges from 2010, when he sent a threatening text message to a former girlfriend. 

6th Round: QB Chandler Harnish (Northern Illinois)

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    Height: 6'2"

    Weight: 220

    40 Time: 4.69

    Chandler Harnish played for the West squad in last weekend East-West Shrine game.  in 2001, Harnish was named to the All-MAC first team by the media at QB and was also named MAC Offensive Player of the Year. 

    In 2011, Harnish had a great statistical year,  Harnish threw 26 TD passes vs. just five pick, plus he also ran for 1,488 yards and 11 rushing TDs.  The Packers like to have QBs with mobility running their offense, and Harnish definitely has that.

    Harnish led Northern Illinois to the MAC Championship, plus led the Huskies to a win in the Bowl vs. Arkansas State.

    Harnish has good pocket presence, and can run out of the pocket to create big plays.  Harnish doesn't have a howitzer for an arm, but can make all the throws.  Harnish also has a quick delivery.

    The Packers will lose Matt Flynn to either free agency or a trade in the near future, and right now would only have Graham Harrell and newly signed AFL QB Nick Hill to back up Aaron Rodgers

7th Round: OT Josh Oglesby (Wisconsin)

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    Height: 6'7"

    Weight: 330

    40 Time: 5.30

    Josh Oglesby was named to the All-Big Ten first team by both the coaches and the media.  Oglesby had a strong senior season after having some injury issues throughout his career at Wisconsin. 

    Oglesby has had six knee surgeries in his career, and he suffered a torn ACL in 2010.  It's for that reason that his draft stock is not higher. 

    Oglesby played both RT and LT at Wisconsin, and that is a welcome trait in Green Bay, where the coaches love versatility out of their offensive linemen.

    Oglesby is a four year starter who is massive.  Even with his size, Oglesby has shown the ability to get to the second level on his blocks.  Oglesby is a punishing run blocker, but does have problems at times with speed rushers in pass blocking.

    The Packers need to add depth to the OT position, as Chad Clifton missed most of the 2011 season with a severe hamstring injury, plus it isn't certain he will return in 2012, as he is no spring chicken.  RT Bryan Bulaga missed action on a couple of occasions in 2011, due to knee injuries and 1st round draft choice Derek Sherrod suffered a broken leg late in the season.

    Marshall Newhouse played okay overall at both LT and RT while Clifton and Bulaga were out, though he had issues against elite speed rushers.

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