Whitney Mercilus

Draft Grades: Houston Texans

This draft was an opportunity for the Houston Texans to solidify a few holes in an effort to make a deep playoff run in 2012. And despite spending just one pick in the first two rounds, the Texans did a decent job addressing needs without reaching to fill those holes.

Whitney Mercilus will help ease the pain of losing Mario Williams, and should excel in Wade Phillips’ defense. At this stage in his career, Mercilus is a pure pass rusher, but that’s all the Texans need from him in 2012. He’ll share time with Brooks Reed and Connor Barwin and may only be used in pass rush situations early in his career.

DeVier Posey was a forgotten man in the draft process, mainly due to the fact he missed much of the 2011 season due his suspensions at Ohio State. But Posey is a fairly polished product and has the potential to step into the third receiver role in Houston.

Brandon Brooks is a massive interior lineman who has the potential to be a dominant run blocker. However, he’s still very raw and has limited experience against top competition. Additionally, his weight has always been an issue, so the Texans will have to monitor his development closely.

Ben Jones played center at Georgia, but I have to wonder if the Texans plan to move him to guard. The Texans recently signed Chris Myers to a four-year contract extension, giving little hope to Jones of stealing away the starting job anytime soon.

Keshawn Martin fits perfectly in Houston as a slot receiver, and should see fairly significant playing time in three and four wide receiver sets.

Jared Crick could be a steal for the Texans. He’s a prototypical 3-4 end and should excel in the Texans defensive scheme. He could steal a starting job from Antonio Smith sooner rather than later.

I don’t have a problem with taking a kicker in the 5th round, but Randy Bullock should not have been the first kicker off the board. Blair Walsh and Greg Zuerlein were ranked ahead of Bullock on every board I saw, including my own. Bullock was my 7th-rated kicker.

Nick Mondek offers little value other than as a backup. The Texans will hope he can demonstrate enough versatility in training camp to win a job, but he’ll have to compete with Derek Newton for a roster spot.

Overall, this was a very solid haul for the Texans. They should get immediate productive from Mercilus and Posey, and have some solid developmental prospects in Brooks, Jones and Crick. This could prove to be one of Rick Smith’s stronger draft classes.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Draft Grades - 2012, Texans Comments Off

Houston Texans select Whitney Mercilus, Grade B

Whitney Mercilus is a decent value pick for the Houston Texans here, but I don’t think it was the home run they needed to improve their chances of competing for the Super Bowl in 2012.

The Texans already had solid outside linebackers in Connor Barwin and Brooks Reed, so Mercilus will only be part of the rotation early on. He’s definitely a nice piece to the puzzle, but there were some guys on the board, such as Cordy Glenn, who would have made a bigger impact in 2012.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Texans Comments Off

Whitney Mercilus scouting report

Whitney Mercilus DE Illinois #85
Ht: 6’4″

Wt: 265

 
Strengths:
Prototypical size for a 4-3 end or 3-4 outside linebacker. Uses his speed to consistently get into the backfield. Does a nice job keeping his eyes on the quarterback and getting his hands up into passing lanes. Impressive motor; saw a lot of double teams, but continued to fight through the whistle. Experienced lining up at various spots on the line due to Illinois’ hybrid 3-4/4-3 defense, but at his best as the five-technique (lining up outside the offensive tackle). Some experience playing with his hand off the ground. A mature team leader.
Weaknesses:
Inconsistent off the snap; dangerous when he explodes off the snap, but too often the last man out of his stance. Struggles to shed blocks against the run, but does hold his ground fairly well. Only one full year of starting experience.
Comments:
Mercilus is a unique prospect who has experience lining up all over the field at Illinois – 3-4 end, 4-3 end, 4-3 tackle, and outside linebacker – and he excelled wherever his coaches placed him in 2011. The one major concern with Mercilus is his lack of sustained production, which raises some concern that he may be a one-year wonder. He spent most of his career playing with his hand in the dirt, but he actually looks most explosive and natural at linebacker. If he lands in the right system, he could be a dangerous pass-rush threat from day one.
Videos:
2011 vs Arizona State
2011 vs UCLA
2011 vs Northwestern
2011 vs Penn State
Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Scouting Reports - 2012 Comments Off

Saturday draft notes

- Potential top-10 pick Jerel Worthy of Michigan State needs to keep his emotions in check. He wasn’t shy about sharing his hatred for Michigan this past week – which is fine – but he clearly let it effect his play on the field. Worthy played out of control at times, and was called for at least one penalty (jumping offside and knocking down a Michigan lineman in the process). This isn’t something that will effect his draft stock, but it is something coaches and GMs may want to discuss with him during his pre-draft interviews.

- Boom Herron had a big game for Ohio State in his return from his suspension. He’s probably a 3rd or 4th round prospect because he lacks the elite size and speed to really stand out, but I like his chances of contributing at the next level. He’s patient, has great vision and is a surprisingly tough runner between the tackles considering his size. He’s sort of a cross between Ahmad Bradshaw and Justin Forsett.

- Illinois junior defensive end Whitney Mercilus had a nice game against Ohio State. Mike Adams was his toughest test of the year, and Mercilus beat him a few times with a variety of moves. He’s quick off the snap, but also showed that he had the strength to fight past Adams even when he didn’t beat him off the snap.

- As for Adams, it was a fairly disappointing performance. He has as much talent as any lineman in this class, but he just looks too soft at times. He seems to lack the mean streak necessary to dominate. He was also called for a costly penalty late in the 4th quarter which helped keep Illinois in the game.

- We have to wait another year before Tyrann Matthieu is draft-eligible, but Morris Claiborne could come out this year and he is looking like a potential top-15 pick. He does a great job turning to play the ball, rather than strictly reacting to the receiver. He made another nice play today against Tennessee where he essentially became the receiver, and nearly returned the pick for a touchdown.

- Trent Richardson continues to improve his draft stock. If you missed his big run against Ole Miss check it out on youtube. He is every bit as good as Adrian Peterson was coming out of college and should be a top-10 lock.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft Comments Off