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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Mel Kiper Projects Bears To Take Whitney Mercilus With No. 19 Pick

The Chicago Bears are projected to select Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus with the No. 19 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft in Mel Kiper's latest mock draft for ESPN. Many analysts expect the Bears to select an offensive player, likely a wide receiver or offensive lineman, but Kiper sees a solid pick here.

Quick off the edge, Mercilus utilizes great anticipation and some natural gifts as a pass-rusher, with closing speed and long arms once he has the quarterback in sight. He's coming off a brilliant final season for the Illini, and Rod Marinelli could do wonders with him. The Bears could use some pass-rushing insurance with Julius Peppers not getting any younger.

Chicago has a ton of talent on defense, but many of the players aren't especially young. Mercilus had a monster year for the Fighting Illini before leaving school, leading the nation with 16 sacks and nine forced fumbles.

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.