Would Bill Walsh have drafted Whitney Mercilus?

Would Bill Walsh have drafted Whitney Mercilus?
April 17, 2012, 2:13 pm
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The Bears are looking to land an impact edge pass rusher somewhere in the draft, possibly with their first pick at or around No. 19. One of the names being considered is defensive end Whitney Mercilus, who recorded 16 sacks last season for Illinois.

The late Bill Walsh, renowned for draft success in building the San Francisco 49ers dynasty, would have advised caution.

Nothing personal about Mercilus, a young man of solid character and good on-field attitude.

But Walsh had a belief that one-year wonders (Mercilus had one sack in each of his two previous seasons) were not where you should go, with the hope that the jaw-dropping one season will be the norm.

Walshs commandment: "Never take the one-year wonder and look forward; take the one-year wonder and look back."

NFL.coms Mike Lombardi, longtime NFL executive and one who worked with Walsh, explained that and five other draft axioms followed by Walsh.

Lombardi explains the one-year issue:

After Walsh was burned by a one-year wonder in the 1987 draft -- Clemson running back Terrence Flagler -- he became skeptical of limited track records. If a good coach was unable to get a player to produce before his final season with the program, how could he expect to get consistent effort at the NFL level? In a similar vein, former Georgetown coach John Thompson has explained a scenario on the recruiting trail that I love to reference. When the parents of a prospective recruit would ask Thompson to make sure their son attended classes, despite his spotty attendance in high school, Thompson always responded with a simple question: "If you can't get him to go, what makes you think I can?"

Thompsons perspective is notable as well. Coaches and talent evaluators can fall into over-believing in themselves and their ability to get something out of a player that no one else ever did that somehow the player will be better under them than he ever was before.

It can happen; players have been in wrong systems (Brett Favre under Jerry Glanville was never going to see the field).

But is a player like Chandler Jones, an edge rusher with 10 sacks over his three years at Syracuse, going to step into the NFL and start producing 10 a year?

Jared Allen had 4-6.5-10.5-17.5 in his four seasons at Idaho State (he lasted until the fourth round). Reggie White still holds the Tennessee records for sacks in a game, season and career. Bill Tobin scouted Richard Dent at Tennessee State and came away convinced hed seen the best pass rusher the Bears would ever have.

Not that a one-year flash cant be a keeper. Some players take longer to fully develop physically or maybe a light finally went on.

But buyer beware..