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2012 NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois

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In its first posy-NFL Scouting Combine mock draft, the Draft Tek computers that spit out a draft simulation have given Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus to the New York Giants with the 32nd pick of the first round in the 2012 NFL Draft.

So, let's use today's 2012 NFL Draft Prospect Profile to look at Mercilus, who led the nation with 16 sacks in 2011, and see if he could fit as the next great pass-rushing defensive end for the Giants.

In a post-NFL Scouting Combine report, Matt Bowen of the National Football Post isn't quite sure what to make of Mercilus:

"Mercilus came into the Combine after posting 16 sacks this past season at Illinois. 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. But what you are looking for is that 4.63 speed he posted in Indy that will give you a first-round edge rusher in both fronts. Plenty of discussion that Mercilus is a one-year wonder ... let the tape be the judge of that."

In his scouting report, NFP's Wes Bunting sounds as if he isn't quite sure what he is looking at with Mercilus, either.

"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."

After watching Mercilus at the Combine, Scott Wright of Draft Countdown wrote: "There is some concern within the scouting community that Illinois DE Whitney Mercilus may be a little stiff but the Fighting Illini All-American actually looked much more fluid than expected, running 4.68 forty and showing well in both the defensive line and linebacker drills."

Here is some of what CBS Sports said about Mercilus:

"With top production for only one season, teams must figure out whether Mercilus is a one-year wonder. ... He has adequate size and build, but lacks the frame to get much stronger and add bulk -- has long arms and big hands to create problems for blockers. Mercilus is still developing and is more of an athlete than polished pass rusher at this point, but he is a high effort player with a nonstop motor and simply finds ways to get to the backfield. He looks like a poor man's Aldon Smith and will be best used by a creative defensive coordinator who moves him around the defensive front -- a one-year performer, but has the make-up to be a top-40 pick."

Whitney Mercilus Profile

Height: 6-foot-4
Weight: 261 pounds
School: Illinois
40 time: 4.68
2011 Stats: 57 tackles (22.5 tackles for loss), 16 sacks, 9 forced fumbles

Complete List Of Prospect Profiles

Bobby Massie, OT, Mississippi
Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers
Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State
Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State
Kelechi Osemele, OG, Iowa State
Doug Martin, RB, Boise State
Emmanuel Acho, LB, Texas
Andre Branch, DE, Clemson
Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
Dont'a Hightower, MLB, Alabama
Zebrie Sanders, OT, Florida State
Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford
Lamar Miller, RB, Miami
Zach Brown, OLB, North Carolina
Cordy Glenn, OG, Georgia
Mark Barron, S, Alabama
Dwayne Allen, TE, Clemson