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Prospect Profiles: Whitney Mercilus



TRIANGLE NUMBERS: 6-4, 265, 4.7


National Football Post:

What I like…

– Possesses a strong looking frame with good length and impressive musculature through his upper half.
– Exhibits a good first step for his size off the snap. Can keep his base under him initially off the football and threaten the edge off the snap.
– Showcases some savvy using his length and hands to keep himself clean on contact. Can be quick/compact with his club/swat on the outside in order to slip the block.
– Showcases some savvy when looking to work the bull rush into contact and quickly use his length o slip toward the corner and try to close around the edge.
– Uses his length well to wrap on the ball carrier. Displays an impressive wingspan and uses his length well to finish on the quarterback.
– Is a natural strong kid who can overwhelm on contact as a bull rusher and despite not playing with consistent leverage, has good natural power on his leg drive through contact.
– Showcases a solid spin move once he gets to the edge and can work his way back inside if the tackle is over playing toward the edge.
– Is versatile enough to line-up inside as a three technique in pass rushing situations.
– Is actually at his best in my view as a three-technique firing off the ball and shooting the C-gap where he initially can keep his pad level down and use his combination of burst and power to fight his way up the field through contact.
– Showcases good range off his frame when closing from the backside in the run game.
– Was extremely productive as a pass rusher in 2011 finishing the season with 14.5 sacks.

What I don’t like…

– Has only one year of solid production, finishing the 2009 and 2010 season with only one sack a piece.
– Struggles with pad level through contact. Has a tendency to pop upright in the run game and struggles to disengage.
– Needs to do a better job extending his long arms into contact vs. the run game. Allows opposing blockers to get into his frame and stick to him through contact.
– Fails to keep himself clean and sit into his base vs. the run game.
– Instincts and overall ball awareness vs. the run game are poor. Struggles to consistently find the football.
– Even when he does find the football looks too stiff in the lower half to consistently breakdown and doesn’t play real quick in tight quarters vs. the run.
– Too often allows ball carriers to run right by him on the edge when unblocked.
– Gives up leverage through contact and can be easily ridden past the play.
– Lacks ideal technique when looking to disengage through contact and too often tries to just manhandle his opponent.
– Looks tight as a pass rusher and despite his “plus” first step doesn’t look natural trying to dip and rip around the edge.
– Too often is easily pushed past the pocket.
– Gets upright through contact as a bull rusher and vs. stronger tackles isn’t going to be nearly as effective as a power player.
– Isn’t real sudden laterally. More of a linear athlete who struggles to quickly change directions in order to slip blocks inside.
– Doesn’t use his hands well to disengage through contact. Can eventually manhandle his opponent for the most part, but gets upright and isn’t real violent with his hands when engaged.

Impression: Physically he looks the part and has the skill to simply man handle college lineman at times. However, he’s a raw kid who is stiff in the hips and doesn’t have a great feel for the game when asked to find the football. He’s got some upside, but his tightness and overall lack of natural feel for the game are two very big concerns that will keep him from being the type of pass rusher his freaky skill set says he could.

NY Times:

At 6-4, 265 pounds, Whitney Mercilus (#85) is in the perfect range to play either defensive end in a 4-3 scheme or outside linebacker in a 3-4. Mercilus spent time rushing from both a traditional three-point stance and from a stand-up position at Illinois.  He is quite quick off the edge and generally takes good angles to the quarterback, keeping his pad level low around the corner.  He uses his hands as well as any rusher I have studied thus far, slapping away blockers’ arms to reach the quarterback (see the 59-second mark in the video below against U.C.L.A.)

Mercilus is a bit tricky to evaluate because he is athletic yet stiff in the hips.  He has the quickness and agility to chase down the quarterback (see the 2:36 mark against U..C.L.A) and side-step blockers (3:43 mark against U.C.L.A.), but he also fails to change direction quickly and looks as if he would struggle in coverage if asked to drop into a zone.  In short, he is athletic in that he is explosive but not overly coordinated.

Mercilus broke out in 2011 and collected 16 sacks without much of a pass rush repertory.  He generally used superior quickness and leverage to get to the quarterback.  The one move he displays quite nicely is the bull rush, which you can see at the 5:02 mark against U.C.L.A.  His bull rush is powerful and effective, but he will need to find a complementary move in the N.F.L.  At the 6:18 mark, you can see the opportunity for a spin move open up when the offensive tackle over-sets.  If Mercilus has that move, he has a sack.  When he does attempt a spin move (such as at the 1:52 mark in the Penn State video below), it is ineffective.

One of the things I really like about Mercilus is his run defense.  He generally keeps his outside shoulder free to contain ball-carriers (such as at the 1:50 mark against U.C.L.A.), and he can fight through double teams (2:28).  He is one of the stronger prospects I have watched in 2012, and his motor is second to none.

A question N.F.L. teams will be asking is, Where was Mercilus before 2011?  In 2009 and 2010, he totaled two combined sacks.  Two.  Is Mercilus a fluke, or was he a raw player who is finally putting together his tremendous natural skills? I think it is the latter.

Whitney Mercilus out of Illinois is one of the top defensive end prospects in the 2012 NFL Draft. So far in 2011, he’s piling up awards recognition nearly as fast as sacks and tackles for loss. He currently leads the nation in sacks (13.5), sacks per game (1.23) and forced fumbles (8). Mercilus is also a Bronko Nagurski Trophy finalist, an award given to the nation’s best defensive player.What Mercilus lacks in athleticism he makes up for in consistent effort. He really often sells out on pass-rushing and abandons his gap assignment to rush the passer. He can play both defensive end positions and does well to change up his style, whether it be a bull rush or going inside/outside.Should only be considered a 4-3 defensive end. Although he has the size to play 3-4 OLB, he doesn’t have the fluid hips or the footwork necessary yet to play in coverage. At the next level, he’ll need to learn how to be more explosive off the line and stay in his lane since teams often run right at where he is supposed to be.His pad level after contact gets high, which is a big problem for scouts. For a guy with his size, he doesn’t have a strong base and will likely need to beef up his lower body to hold his ground.Mercilus projects as an early second round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft


[pro-player width=’530′ height=’253′ type=’video’][/pro-player]

GiantsGab Thoughts:

Whitney Mercilus is an athletic defensive end prospect. Good burst. Can play inside or out.  Plays hard. Needs to bulk up. Very productive in college. Good at run defense. Stiff in the hips, which is an issue, because that’s what plagued Vernon Gholston. Doesn’t have the best awareness. Still raw and is not ready to contribute right away. Still, has the physical tools and the college production to project him as a very good starting defensive end who can pick up sacks. The Giants don’t need defensive ends, but this is the Giants we’re talking about. If Mercilus is available at 32, they could pull a Kiwanuka and draft him when they don’t need him. They can bring him along slowly and allow him to develop into a starting defensive end in a short amount of time.




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3 Responses to “Prospect Profiles: Whitney Mercilus”

  1. Big Daddy says:

    I have a feeling Reese will draft this guy if he’s there at 32 and try and trade into a top 10 second round slot for Fleener. That’s what I would probably try to do depending on how the draft goes.

  2. you will get Second Round pick
    tow players Nfl Draft new york giants Take him
    Coby Fleener and Whitney Mercilus better Together Team good luck to
    Wish all god love Keep today

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