[*] Raw speed to turn the edge
[*] Agility to sink his hips/shoulder
[*] Repertoire of moves
[*] Active hands
[*] Has the strength to anchor and hold his ground vs. the run
[*] Always looking to force fumbles
[*] Quick get off
[*] Shedding blocks when pass rushing
[*] Ability to bull rush heavy tackles and guards
[*] Extremely athletic
[*] One-year wonder
[*] Lacks complete body of work in college
[*] Quality of tackles he faced
Whitney Mercilus was the most productive pass-rusher in
college football in 2011. He led the nation in sacks (16) and forced
fumbles (9). It was a record-setting season as Mercilus topped Simeon
Rice's school record for sacks in a year. Like Rice, Mercilus is a
fabulous athlete. He has a special combination of size, speed and
strength to go along with excellent technique. Mercilus also recorded 57
tackles and 22.5 tackles for a loss.
Entering the NFL, Mercilus is an advanced pass-rusher. He got the better
of the best tackles he faced this season. Against Ohio State's Mike
Adams, Mercilus recorded 1.5 sacks with a forced fumble. The Wisconsin
Badgers' powerful offensive line couldn't contain Mercilus. He bull
rushed through massive right tackle Josh Oglesby to get a sack-fumble on
Russell Wilson. Mercilus also knocked out left tackle Ricky Wagner for
part of the game.
Mercilus has a very impressive repertoire of pass rushing moves. He
attacks with speed around the edge. As a counter to the speed, he has
the strength to execute rip moves and shed offensive linemen. Mercilus
has the raw power to get under offensive linemen's pads and bull rush
into the pocket. That catches linemen by surprise as they are so
cognizant of being ready for his speed rush. Beyond his great physical
skill set, Mercilus is an advanced pass-rusher technically.
Mercilus holds up well in run defense. Linemen don't push him around, as
he is strong at the point of attack. He also will burst into the
backfield to disrupt running plays.
The big question regarding Mercilus is why didn't break into the lineup
sooner and why didn't he produce more earlier. In 2009 and 2010,
Mercilus combined to record 24 tackles with two sacks and 6.5 tackles
for a loss.
Player Comparison: Jason Pierre-Paul.
There are a lot of
similarities between Mercilus and JPP. Both are fantastic athletes who
come to the NFL with a special combination of speed and strength. They
also were one-year wonders at the college level. Mercilus had more
production than JPP in their final college season, and the latter has
turned into one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL.
Right now, it looks like Mercilus should get drafted in the same range
as JPP. However, it is possible that Mercilus will be this year's Aldon
Smith and surprise some by cracking the top 10. It is not out of the
question for him to pass North Carolina's Quinton Coples in the lead up
to the 2012 NFL Draft
. JPP did that with Derrick Morgan in 2010. Projecting Mercilus to the pros, I see a player similar to Pierre-Paul.
Jacksonville, Chicago, San Diego, New York Jets, Buffalo, Cleveland, Detroit
What team couldn't use another pass-rusher? Mercilus has the athletic
ability to be a stand-up edge-rusher in 3-4 defenses, and that opens him
up to consideration from a lot of teams. He looks like a natural right
defensive end in a 4-3 defense who will challenge left tackles.
The Jaguars will have the first crack at Mercilus, and they need an edge
rusher. Buffalo, San Diego and the Jets are all 3-4 defenses that need
to find a player who can put heat on the quarterback. If Mercilus gets
past all of those teams, he could end up in Chicago. They need some
young talent for their defense. It would be a significant fall for
Mercilus to get to the Browns' second first-round selection, but they
could use an end to complete their young front four. The Lions almost
took a defensive end last year, and if they don't re-sign Cliff Avril,
they might consider trading up to land Mercilus.