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New York Giants 2012 NFL Draft Profiles: Illinois Defensive End Whitney Mercilus

April 15th, 2012 at 6:00 AM
By Kyle Langan

The New York Giants recently traded for linebacker Keith Rivers, which may not have changed the teams draft plans, but it changed how avid followers of the team envision the teams plan. They haven't gone out of their way to hide the fact that their defense is predicated on a fierce pass rush. A stable of defensive ends with the skill-sets to play all over the defensive line have caused problems for offensive lines across the league over the last five seasons.

When thinking about the New York Giants and the NFL Draft, absolutely never put it past them to continue to invest in their biggest in their most important asset.

After shoring up the linebacker position with Keith Rivers and Chase Blackburn, as well as adding offensive line and cornerback depth in the form of Sean Locklear and Antwaun Molden, it appears as if General Manager Jerry Reese's plan is coming together. He has bolstered need positions with solid depth that will compete from the start of camp and that takes some of the pressure off of the team to reach for players in the draft.

When evaluating the draft process, this caused me to revert my attention to the defensive end position, particularly Whitney Mercilus

I watched him in a number of games and he is a difficult prospect to peg. I sought out the opinions of pro scouts on Mercilus, and they said they "wished he had stayed in school" but that he was an "explosive athlete." Both parts are tough to argue with. As much as Mercilus can struggle to get off blocks at times and has issues maintaining gap integrity, he makes impact plays in every game he plays in. 

His first three seasons at Illinois he did not have much production. Last season though, he had 22.5 tackles for a loss and 16 sacks, a testament to his ability to make plays. He also has some fantastic flexibility along the line, playing all four positions.

Had Mercilus stayed in school and repeated his production, he would be considered a top 15 pick next year. Truth is though, Jerry Reese and his scouting staff don't need the extra year. Jason Pierre-Paul did not have an overly productive college career yet Reese knew what he had in Pierre- Paul from day one. 

I suspect the same will hold true for whomever Reese picks in the first round this season. Mercilus along with Vinny Curry and Nick Perry figure to be on the team's radar come the end of the first round.


Tags: Antwaun Molden, Chase Blackburn, Football, Jason Pierre-Paul, Jerry Reese, Keith Rivers, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Sean Locklear, Whitney Mercilus

12 Responses to “New York Giants 2012 NFL Draft Profiles: Illinois Defensive End Whitney Mercilus”

  1.  Samardzija says:

    Ive decided on Mercilus and have him as my #3 DE and a top 20 pick.
    To add a little on him, it really started to click for him last year when he lost his finger (lol btw) and he got more serious bout everything which led to him blowing up on the field..

  2.  kujo says:

    New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning will host NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” on May 5, the show announced Saturday night.

    Manning led the Giants to a Super Bowl win in February.

    Denver’s Peyton Manning, Eli’s brother, hosted the show in 2007. The Patriots’ Tom Brady hosted in 2004.

    Rihanna is scheduled to be the musical guest.

  3.  kujo says:

    This guy seems destined to be a stand up 3-4 OLB/DE.

  4.  Krow says:

    Mercilus would be the perfect pick for us … however he’s not going to be there at #32.

    •  kujo says:

      Why is he so “perfect” for us?

      •  Krow says:

        Arguably a Top-20 talent at a position where we could be very thin. Explosive burst to the QB. Fast closer. Has the frame to add 10-20 pounds. A little raw, and would shine in the right situation. More suited to a 4-3 DE than a conversion 3-4 OLB. Young with a lot of football ahead of him.

  5.  fanfor55years says:

    I’ve learned it almost never makes sense to assume that a player who isn’t clearly a top 10 pick won’t fall to the lower part of the first round or the early second. There was no way we should have been able to get Amukamara or Kenny Phillips without trading up, but we did. These things are unpredictable.

    I’m sticking with Mercilus, Jones, Fleener or one of the top wide receivers as my hope for our first pick, at whatever slot that turns out to be.

  6.  Dirt says:


    I love you man, but, please tell me attendance at the April 15th OTA isn’t anywhere near the top of your list of barometers for performance in the upcoming season.

    •  Krow says:

      Course not. But it’s the first canary down the mine. All I’m saying is if I’m Osi and I want a new contract I’m at every event. Every one. I’m THE perfect team guy. I’m not the guy who called the GM a liar and demanded a trade. I’m not the guy who missed all sorts of games and practices. That was someone else. This is the new me … and I’m here at the OTA even though it’s bullsh1i. In fact I’m here especially because it’s bullsh1t. Cause that’s how I roll … team first.

      That’s the message he can send … or not.

  7.  GOAT56 says:

    BBG – you said in reference to Osi “Now….you can choose to believe it was a real injury, he got healthy and contributed, or you may believe, Osi used the injury to hold out as a ploy to get a new deal.” I really can’t believe you said that. The team doctors verified the injuries and both times he came back within the given timeframe for the injury. It might have been on the high side but still within the timeframe. Plus you just don’t do elective surgery without a legit injury.

    Last year JR called Osi’s bluff and Osi admitted to such. I’m not saying Osi is happy making the money he is but there’s nothing he can do except hold out. But he’s already seen JR doesn’t give in. Osi’s issues have been with management and trying to get paid. Even last preseason he went to team meetings and was still engaged. Once to season began we didn’t hear a peep from Osi, same with the year before.

    I say all of this to say the Osi situation just really comes down to if something like a 2nd and 5th is a deal JR will take. I have stated I wouldn’t take it. Not because it isn’t a fair deal but because what Osi can provide us in 2012. I fully understand taking the deal. I think from the River’s trade and re-signing Blackburn means there’s a good chance Osi is traded for such a deal. However, if Osi is traded it’s because the trade value provided too much for JR to pass up not because we have to “dump” Osi due to a “distraction”.

  8.  Krow says:

    Nobody WANTS to dump Osi. I don’t think anyone is saying that. In fact I suspect we’d all like to see him extended. I just can’t see that happening.

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