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Mercilus a big draw at Illinois' Pro Day

Posted on: March 6, 2012 5:49 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2012 5:56 pm
 

Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus became the first top prospect to participate in agility tests during the Pro Day season, running an impressive 4.38-second short shuttle and a 7.03-second three-cone drill, according to NFL.com.
  
One of 18 prospects to work out in front of representatives from all 32 NFL teams for Tuesday's indoor workout on field turf, Mercilus is trying to prove he can transition to edge rusher in a 3-4 scheme if asked. Rated as the No. 3 defensive end prospect and No. 26 overall by NFLDraftScout.com, Mercilus measured in at 6-3 7/8, 258 pounds.
  
Offensive tackle Jeff Allen, a rising prospect looking to crack the top three rounds, stood on his workout numbers from the Scouting Combine, although he did run a 4.78 short shuttle and 7.57 three-cone drill.
  
A.J. Jenkins is the 18th-rated wide receiver by NFLDraftScout.com. He ran a 4.06 short shuttle and a 6.73 three-cone drill.
  
Cornerback Tavon Wilson is a fringe draft prospect who ran 4.5 and 4.55-second 40-yard dashes to go along with a 32-inch vertical jump, 10"4' brad jump, 4.16 short shuttle, 7.04 three-cone drill and bench pressed 225 pounds 17 times.
  
But there was no doubt the scouts were on hand primarily to take in Mercilus' workout. He's one of the first-round's biggest enigmas. After two mediocre season's at Illinois, he busted out as the nation's top defensive end with 16 sacks, nine forced fumbles and a whopping 22.5 tackles for loss.
  
"I just have a knack for it," he said at the Combine, where he ran a 4.68 40, fourth-best among defensive linemen in attendance. "Throughout the game I was able to watch the quarterback's movements and just see him open up and then I just go in there and just knock it away."
 
He also benched 225 pounds 27 times, had a 32-inch vertical jump, a 118-inch broad jump, a 7.17 three-cone drill and a 4.53 in the short shuttle in Indianapolis.
   
Scouts gush a list of positives traits, including quickness, agility, strength, instincts, condition, attitude ... and he is just beginning to mature and could be a great outside linebacker. Reaching for comparisons, they mention names like Simeon Rice, Dwight Freeney, Richard Dent, and even the great Reggie White.
  
The U.S. born son of parents who emigrated from Haiti in the 1980s, Mercilus played mostly soccer until high school. His 2011 season had an auspicious beginning when lost the tip of his left index finger last spring in a weight-room accident. Teammates were shocked when he light-heartedly dismissed the injury as only a bother when he played the keyboard or tried to pick up coins.

 

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