The 2012 NFL Draft is just over two months away, and Illinois Fighting Illini defensive end Whitney Mercilus has been listed as a late first-round selection on various mock drafts around the web. His amazing junior season has created questions whether he is an elite prospect or not, and the NFL Combine will be his best chance to prove to scouts that he can be an impact player in the NFL. Then again, some think his on-field resume simply isn't strong enough.
Josh Norris of Rotoworld has done "extensive film study" and has emerged with a list of 10 players he believes "are receiving too much positive attention in media evaluations and mock drafts." Illinois DE/OLB Whitney Mercilus makes an appearance on his overrated prospect list:
Illinois DE/OLB Whitney Mercilus (6-3/265/4.68) - The nation's leader with 16 sacks, Mercilus' talent does not equal his production. He lacks a great first step and has minimal explosion off the edge. Mercilus is only adequate in many areas: hand use, length to separate, strength at the point of attack, and athleticism to bend the corner. Many of his sacks started with quick inside moves against heavy-footed linemen, or catching a scrambling QB out of the pocket. I will certainly credit Mercilus for his on-field awareness, as he consistently holds his edge assignment and effectively flows down the line. Mercilus also chases plays to the sideline, exhibiting a persistent style that will attract 3-4 teams. He will benefit from a shallow pass-rushing class.
Whether teams agree with this evaluation is another story all together, as a strong showing at the Combine could certainly prove that he would fit in the right system.