New York Giants 2012 NFL Draft Profile: Illinois DE Whitney Mercilus

Welcome to day four of the New York Giants 2012 NFL Draft profile series. We are having a lot of fun with these and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading them. Today’s profile is Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus.

As I mentioned in the Nick Perry profile, it is very possible that the Giants go with a pass rusher as early as the first round in the draft. Jerry Reese loves pass rushers, and he just lost Dave Tollefson to the Oakland Raiders, and Osi Umenyiora has a contract expiring after this season.

Before the off season started, the Giants had several directions they could have gone with their first round pick. They could have taken either a tight end, linebacker, running back, or offensive lineman. Those were the biggest needs according to most everyone who followed the Giants.

Now it seems as if only running back is still a viable option, and even then the Giants could wait a round or two to pick up one. They signed Martellus Bennett, a trade for Keith Rivers is all but done, and they signed Sean Locklear to compete for the right tackle spot.

Losing Tollefson and in all likelihood Rocky Bernard means the Giants could very well go defensive line in the first round, especially since they have the best value at that point in the draft.

Mercilus started just one season at Illinois at weak side defensive end, but he was a monster in that one season. He’s been climbing up draft boards and will likely be taken before the Giants can get their hands on him.

He bares a striking similarity to Jason Pierre-Paul. Mercilus’ parents are Haitian immigrants and he did not spend his entire life playing football. He is a raw talent with tons of room for improvement.

Mercilus led the NCAA with 16 sacks and had 22.5 tackles for loss with nine forced fumbles on his way to winning the Ted Hendricks award for the nation’s top defensive end.

Mercilus possess all the quality traits required of a top tier defensive end—quickness, agility, strength, instincts, a relenting motor, and a toughness.

He still needs some work to become one of the better defensive ends in the NFL, but he has potential to be one of the best. Here are what the scouts say on him.

ESPN’s Mel Kiper: 

Quick off the edge, Mercilus utilizes great anticipation and some natural gifts as a pass-rusher, with closing speed and long arms once he has the quarterback in sight. He’s coming off a brilliant final season for the Illini

WalterFootball.com

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. 

It would be a bit of a shock for Mercilus to fall to No. 32, but in Todd McShay’s most recent mock draft he doesn’t have anyone in the first round selecting Mercilus, which is a surprise but stranger things have happened.

Don’t expect the Giants to pass on him if he is there and the top player on their board.

Related Articles 

New York Giants 2012 NFL Draft Profile: Jerel Worthy

New York Giants 2012 NFL Draft Profile: Bobby Massie

New York Giants 2012 NFL Draft Profile: Stephen Hill

New York Giants 2012 NFL Draft Profile: Dont’a Hightower

New York Giants 2012 NFL Draft Profile: Coby Fleener

 

Questions or comments can be sent to jeff.shull@rantsports.com

Follow Jeff on Twitter @Jeff_Shull


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