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NFL Draft 2012, Whitney Mercilus: Could The Illinois Defensive Lineman End Up With The Detroit Lions?

The Detroit Lions have done plenty to address their defensive line in recent drafts, and's Bucky Brooks thinks they could go in that direction again in the first round of the 2012 NFL draft, this time with Illinois' Whitney Mercilus.

The declining play of Kyle Vanden Bosch and free agent status of Cliff Avril could lead the Lions to make a play for the most productive sack artist in college football last season. Although some have labeled Mercilus as a one-year wonder, his production and athleticism are tough to ignore.

The Lions took defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley in the first round of the 2010 and 2011 drafts, respectively.

Related: 2012 NFL Draft overall rankings

Mercilus had a breakout year as a junior at Illinois in 2011; he finished the season with 22.5 tackles for loss, and 16 of those were sacks.

Related: 2012 NFL Draft News: Whitney Mercilus Part Of Largest Underclassmen Group In Last 10 Years

For updates, stay tuned to SB Nation Chicago. For more on Mercilus, be sure to check out Illinois blog Hail to the Orange. Head over to SB Nation's NFL news hub for more on the 2012 NFL draft.