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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Chicago Bears Expected Pick DE Whitney Mercilus

The Chicago Bears are hours away from their first selection in the 2012 NFL Draft, and the latest mock draft from the Tribune's Dan Pompei suggest the Bears will keep it local, selecting Illinois Fighting Illini DE Whitney Mercilus:

19. Bears: Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois

He fills their most pressing need and gives them good value. Brockers also could make sense if he falls.

Mercilus led all of Division I college football programs with 16.0 sacks and 9 forced fumbles. The 22-year-old defensive end also won a slew of honors following the 2011 season -- his first as a starter -- including the Ted Hendricks Award for the nation's top defensive end.

Related: NFL Draft Rumors: 7 Players Chicago Could Take In The First Round

The 2012 NFL Draft begins Thursday at 7 p.m. ET. The Bears select at No. 19.

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. And drop by SB Nation NFL for more news and notes from around the league.