Next up for the Charger Madness draft profiles is Illinois one year wonder Whitney Mercilus. Mercilus was a one year starter, and boy did he make the best of it. He has climbed higher and higher on many draft boards and is expected to be selected sometime in the bottom half of the first round. Many mocks have him being selected by the Chargers.
Weight: 261 lbs.
Height: 6' 4''
Pros: This guy has great acceleration and possesses pure speed for the position, perhaps his biggest upside. Mercilus has great hand use and is a pain to block, possessing the wiggle to worm his way to the quarterback. This flexibility allows him to gain good positioning against linemen. He is a player who doesn't shy away from contact and is very physical in the trenches. He is a very good tackler and does a great job wrapping up ball carriers and bringing them down. His length allows him to make a reach and have an impact on the play and has good hand placement. He finished the season with 16 sacks (1st in the nation), 22.5 tackles for loss, and 9 forced fumbles (school record and 2nd in NCAA history).
Cons: People will knock that he only had one year of starting experience in college, but when he got the chance, he produced. He doesn't focus on technique to much and is still developing his snap anticipation. He doesn't have the best hips and tends to play high. My biggest concern is his lack of change of direction ability. If he is going to play OLB, he will have to react to the play and recover quickly at times.
Whitney Mercilus is a player who has great potential and should hear his name called early. While he would be learning a new position if he is selected by the Chargers, he has the potential to become a great pass rusher. With his ability to force fumbles and efficiency as a tackler, he should be able to develop into a player who can play every down. This would be a great pickup for the Chargers. What is best is that the team may be able to trade down to select him somewhere around the early 20's. That would be a win/win for the team.