With the 26th pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, the Houston Texans select Whitney Mercilus, DE/OLB, Illinois
Here is our report on Mercilus:
Effort, effort, effort, and active hands..When he commits to rushing the passer he gets off the snap and can fairly quick get around the edge…consistently plays with good leverage…dips under tackle well…active hands..uses a spin move with some success, but needs more moves… does a good job of getting the football from the quarterback on sacks….Illinois moves him around the line as he plays both LDE and RDE…good motor…consistent production In 2011, he’s just been absolutely un-blockable for the majority of the season (tackles for loss in all game except vs South Dakota State, sacks in all game except vs Purdue through 11/18/2011)
Often looks late off the snap (hesitation or he’s slow to react when the ball is snap)…I’m not a proponent of him playing OLB and consider him a promising 43 DE, probably best suited at right defensive end…can get too wide in his rush, and especially in the run game…not instinctive, which slows down his playing speed at times…he can be run at…Needs to work on making plays down the line…Doesn’t drop back into coverage and that’s an area he’ll really have to work on if he’s going to be drafted be a 34 OLB
Round Projection: 1st round
There is a lot to like about Mercilus, but he still has some ways to go before he’s contributing on a consistent basis at the N.F.L. level. It’s remarkable how many plays he makes because sometimes it looks like he is playing slow, but that’s to be expected 2011 is the first season in which he really has seen significant time on the field and being relied on, the more he plays the more comfortable he will be. When he commits to rushing the passer pre-snap you can see how explosive he can be coming off the edge. His best feature is clearly his ability to play with a consistent leverage and his active use of his hands. I think he lacks the fluid and athleticism to drop back into coverage and play outside linebacker in a 34 at the N.F.L. level and I hope a team doesn’t draft him expecting that, but it’s possible they will. I hope he gets a chance to play Defensive end because I think he can be a pretty good RDE for a 43 team. He has pretty good bulk for a guy his size and I think he could even add more to his frame, to help him anchor against the run, but even if he doesn’t he can be a pretty good N.F.L. player and early in his rookie season can be counted on to be a situational pass rusher.
2010: Played in all 13 games, making two starts … Had 16 tackles, 3.0 TFLs, one sack, two hurries, two forced fumbles and one PBU in 2010 … Recorded two tackles, one TFL and forced a fumble in Texas Bowl win over Baylor … Had a tackle and a QB hurry against NIU … Made first career start against SIU, tallying his first solo QB sack, 2 TFLs, a forced fumble, a QB hurry and a PBU.