2012 NFL Draft Capsule: DE Whitney Mercilus

2012 NFL Draft Capsule: DE Whitney Mercilus
April 14, 2012, 4:13 am
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Whitney Mercilus (DE), Illinois
6-4 265 lbs.

2011 Stats:
57 tackles, 22.5 TFL, 16 sacks, 9 FF

Projection:
Mid-to-late first round

Strengths:
Mercilus possesses a strong frame with good length and uses his hands to keep himself clean on contact. He displays an impressive wingspan and can overwhelm on contact using natural power on his leg to drive through contact. Showcases a solid spin move once he gets to the edge and can work his way back inside if the tackle is over playing toward the edge. (National Football Post)

Weaknesses:
One major concern for Mercilus is that he has only had one year of solid production, with only two total sacks going into his junior season. He struggles with pad level through contact and struggles to disengage. He too often allows ball carriers to run right by him on the edge when unblocked and is easily pushed past the pocket. (National Football Post)

Fit for the Bears:
The Bears are known to have interest in Mercilus. Lovie Smith and Rod Marinelli traveled to Champaign to put him through a workout last month. After losing out on Mario Williams in free agency, Chicago has made it a priority to improve their pass-rush in the draft. The standout defensive end from Illinois is a natural pass rusher and learning from a future Hall of Famer like Julius Peppers could help ease his transition into the NFL. Mercilus has drawn comparisons to Giants' sack machine Jason Pierre-Paul. If he were to reach that level, it would be a home run pick for Phil Emery and the Bears.