Name: OLB/DE Whitney Mercilus
Size: 6'3, 261 lbs
Expected Round: 1st
Strengths: Abuses weaker talent. Takes advantage of poor blocking tight ends. Great first step. Looks for the forced fumble. Consistent production of sacks, forced fumbles, and tackles for loss throughout the season. Able to crash the backfield and sniff out the ball if left unblocked by design- always has to be accounted for.
Weaknesses: Walled by better talent. Raw athlete who seems to throw himself at the opposing blocker. Gets turned around frequently and faces away from the play. Poor run stuffer and doesn't do a good job setting the edge. Struggles to disengage from blockers.
What is their role? 4-3 DE, sub-package 3-3 DE. Could develop into a 3-4 OLB, but seems stiff in space.
Will it change from year 1 to year 2? Could continue to grow to become a 3-4 OLB and be a better overall player.
How many downs can he play? One or three down player, depending on the view of his run defending ability. Always available as a pass rusher.
What’s his ST value? Limited, unless used on the coverage unit.
Does he have positional versatility? Can play both 4-3 DE and 3-3 DE in a lighter defense package.
Why the Patriots? The Patriots need a game changer on their defensive front seven and Mercilus has potential to be that player. He can reach the quarterback and has potential to be great as he refines his game and improves his technique.
Why not the Patriots? Mercilus seems better fit in the 4-3 defense due to his north-south ability. He has one season of elite production, but that one season may be a hard sell to Bill Belichick. There are plenty of fit questions that could deter the Patriots from taking Mercilus.
Verdict: No. I think a pass rusher like USC's Nick Perry would be a better fit with the Patriots, even though Perry wishes to stay in the 4-3. There is no real comparison to the 2011 draft as Mercilus only has one year of production. If the Patriots stayed away from last year's pass rushers, who were far more proven, I feel like Mercilus is towards the end of the Patriots list of potential players.