NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois

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Whitney Mercilus
Illinois DE Whitney Mercilus

Green Bay Packers draft prospect profile: Whitney Mercilus.

Player information:

  • Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois
  • 6-foot-4, 265 pounds
  • Graduated high school with a GPA over 3.0 and his parents are from Haiti.
NFL Combine:
  • 20 Yard Shuttle: 4.53 seconds
  • 3 Cone Drill: 7.17 seconds
  • 40 Yard Dash: 4.63 seconds
  • Bench Press: 27.0 reps
  • Broad Jump: 118.0″
  • Vertical Jump: 32.0″

News & Notes:
Stock is rising after the combine…Finished with a NCAA-best 16 sacks in 2011 as a first-time starter…Forced nine fumbles in 2011, second highest in NCAA history…Led the Big Ten with 22.5 tackles for loss…First-team All-American and Big Ten honors…Won the Ted Hendricks award as the nation’s top DE…Unpolished and still developing…high-effort player.

What they’re saying about him:

  • Dane Brugler (NFLDraftScout.com): “Attacks gaps and is a pesky rusher, finding ways to squirm into the backfield. Hard player to block cleanly.”
  • Mark Potash (Chicago Sun Times: Potash quotes an NFL scout: ‘‘Mercilus is a speed rusher with excellent athletic ability. The question [is], will he be a one-year wonder or an up-and-comer? He could be productive as a 3-4 outside linebacker or a 4-3 edge guy.’
  • Matt Bowen (National Football Post): “Wasn’t perfect in positional drills, but displayed enough athletic ability to align as a 4-3 DE or drop into coverage as a 3-4 backer. Plenty of discussion that Mercilus is a one-year wonder…let the tape be the judge of that.”

Video

Video analysis:

  • Tries to blow past blockers on every play
  • If someone teaches this kid an inside move or two, look out
  • Lost outside containment only once in the above video
  • You have to get a body on this kid, even when you run away for him
  • Has one mission: Get upfield. Makes him susceptible to draws, but that’s coachable
  • If the Packers draft this kid, I can see him becoming a huge hit in training camp because of his athleticism. Lots of ooohs and ahhhs during speed drills
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Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam's writing on the Packers here.

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  • Ron LC

    Sounds like the physical attributes are there. Is he a 1st rounder? Will he fall to the second or lower? TT’s history on selecing high round defensive linemen is not good. The guy’s body reminds me of Neal’s. Big up top and throughbred legs. Can he take the beating of going against big strong tackles every play?

    Lot of questions yet, the physical stuff is hard to ignore. If he’s available in the 2nd maybe.

  • Pete Kliman

    I love this player because of the following reasons: great numbers against excellent competition,moves around the line of scrimmage,excellent motor,and still learning the game.

  • Mojo

    I’ve seen mock-drafts where this guy is getting drafted in the 1st round teens, and others who wouldn’t touch him until the third. I guess the complaint against him is all he did last year was the 16 sacks and nothing else. What a tough decision to make if you’re thinking of drafting in the first round. Is he another JPP or a BUST? What a huge payoff if indeed he is the next JPP.

  • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

    personally, I’m skeptical. Watching film I saw a guy that seemed dis-interested a lot, especially in the run game. Turns his back a lot. I don’t see an explosiveness to his game and can’t fathom how he got 16 sacks. Looking at his game logs on cfbstats.com, I would say 10-11 sacks came against the weaker teams on their schedule. Perhaps that explains it.

    • FireMMNow

      when i look at his game log i see a guy that had a sack in EVERY GAME except one. This is not a matter of him loading up and getting 4 sacks in three different games. His game log shows absolutely nothing but consistency. There were a lot of DEs in the Big 10 that played the same schedule and didnt put up the numbers he did. The more I watch Mercilus play the more I am just hoping he is there at 28.

      • FireMMNow

        correction: a sack in every game in except two. He did not have a sack against purdue or South Dakota State. He did however have:

        2 sacks against Arizona State
        1.5 Sacks against Ohio State
        1 sack against Michigan
        1 sack against Wisconsin
        1.5 Sacks against UCLA
        1.5 sacks against Penn State

        • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

          He was consistent, however, you left out the rest”

          3 Indiana
          1 Arkansas St
          1 West Michigan
          1.5 Northwestern
          1 Minnesota

          That’s half his sacks against inferior competition. Add UCLA and AZ State, which were not that good last season, and that’s why I made the statement I made.

          Finally, 14 of his sacks came in 11 games against unranked teams and the year before, he had 1 sack total.

          I just wasn’t that impressed with his game on tape. I supposed I would take him, because he’s bound to be better than what the Packers have, but, i wouldn’t be all warm and fuzzy about it.

  • Adam Czech

    He kind of seems like one of those high school basketball players who scores a bunch of points because he’s a foot taller than everyone else.

    The test for Mercilus comes when he can’t get by on his athleticism alone.

  • Pete Kliman

    All good pts. However, you all forgot to mention his motor. When he’s blocked or the play is away from him he doesn’t give up but instead pursues.

  • Ron Dudley

    This kid has a great motor and is the perfect combination of size and speed for the 5 technique outside linebacker. Just about the only time he doesnt separate from an offensive lineman is when he is double teamed.If he was to play in a 3-4 opposite clay mattews, it would make a vast improvement in the packers pass rush.

    • Lucas

      That may be the most telling statement…”vast improvement”. Put Walden in against the same competition. Does he produce as much. Flip the idea, put Mercilus in G.B. last year. I cannot fathom how we didn’t produce more sacks against our weaker competition. My only question is whether he’s worth it for GBs first pick. Somebody of greater value may be available.