When former Illinois Fighting Illini defensive end Whitney Mercilus declared for the 2012 NFL Draft, he hoped to land somewhere in the first round, and after an impressive NFL Combine and a strong junior season on film, it appears he is primed to come off the board in the first 32 picks. Todd McShay of ESPN recently released his latest mock draft (Insider only), and he has Mercilus headed to the Detroit Lions with the No. 23 pick. Here is what McShay had to say:
Whitney Mercilus*, DE, Illinois
The Lions put the franchise tag on DE Cliff Avril, and Kyle Vanden Bosch will be 34 this season, so now is the time to add an edge rusher to make sure their defensive line will remain a devastating force for years to come. Mercilus has quickness and a knack for big plays, but he is still developing and this would be a good situation for him.
According to SB Nation's NFL draft blog, Mocking The Draft, Mercilus is the No. 2-rated defensive end prospect in the 2012 draft class behind North Carolina DE Quinton Coples.
Stay tuned to SB Nation Chicago for more information, and for in-depth analysis on the Chicago Bears be sure to visit Windy City Gridiron. Visit SB Nation NFL for more news and notes around the league. For more on Illini football, be sure to check out Illinois blog Hail to the Orange.