Mike Mayock weighs in on Whitney Mercilus

Mike Mayock weighs in on Whitney Mercilus
There are loads of questions surrounding Illinois DE Whitney Mercilus.

Mike Mayock, former New York Giants’ safety and well respected Draft guru for the NFL Network, participated in a private pre-draft interview on Thursday. The transcript was later released by the League.

Mayock has produced some of the most accurate Mock Drafts in recent years and was asked a host of questions, not the least significant of which was his take on Illinois’ defensive end Whitney Mercilus.

Mocks all across the country (including our own) suggest Mercilus could be selected by the Chicago Bears with the 19th overall pick next week, and Mayock seems to think the risk could be worth the reward . . .

On his single year of solid production:

“I think on the positive side, there's production,” Mayock said. “Albeit one-year production, which scares some teams—crazy numbers for one year—which begs the question, where were you before then?”

On his technique and skill-set:

“When you look at what he is on tape, he's a natural pass rusher. He's a natural edge rusher. He's got excellent take off. He understands how to work up the field. Does he need to learn technique and more pass rush moves? Yes, because right now, like a lot of gifted college kids, he depends on his speed to win. And, on tape, he can struggle at the point of attack in the run game.”

On his value in the 2012 Draft:

“He's one of the most gifted natural pass rushers in this draft. I think the biggest concern is if you draft him in the first-round, how many snaps you are going to get out of him. Maybe it will be similar to what [Aldon] Smith did in San Francisco; a situational pass rusher who’s disruptive and effective, and he will grow into that point of attack role where he'll be a three-down player. But I think that's really the only side is can he be stout enough at the point of attack down the road to justify being a first-round pick.”

My take:

I’m not at all sold on Mercilus at No. 19. Nobody, of course, knows who will be on the board when the Bears’ turn comes round, but the bottom line is they need to nail that pick. If you don’t feel like you can do that, trade down and stockpile. I’m good with that. No, it’s not easy for any team to nail it at 19, but that’s not an excuse either. Emery has to do what he’s being paid to do next week.

There are just too many questions with Mercilus to be confident in that pick; the biggest of all being exactly what Mayock said: where has this kid’s production been throughout his college career? That question doesn’t just scare teams; it tends to downright terrify them. The systematic approach Phil Emery has taken in Free Agency, leads me to believe he’ll do the same in the Draft. Will he really gamble on Mercilus? Who knows.

Whitney’s ability to anchor against the run is also big question mark, and many have dubbed him a one-trick pony. He doesn’t play with a high level of intensity and isn’t the most athletic player on the board. And, pick No. 19 or not, I want an every-down contributor out of my first-round selection, not a situational player.

When I look at Mercilus schematically, I also wonder just how versatile he can be. In a 3-4 scheme, as an OLB, being asked to simply rush the passer, I think he could be very effective. But in the Bears 4-3, he leaves much to be desired.

Or how about life after Julius Peppers? Not that he’s on his way out the door, but there are quite a few Draft prospects who I think could be effective opposite a player like that. One of Mercilus’ strengths is his size/speed combo, which is great if Peppers is there to draw the extra attention, but does he have the moves to beat a double team himself?

The problem is, of course, despite the questions, Mercilus may still be the best prospect at defensive end should the Bears choose to go in that direction when it’s their turn to pick at 19; which is also why I’m not at all resigned to the Bears taking a DE if Emery feels he has a better prospect on his board at another position. By all means . . .

My wish list:

Personally, North Carolina’s Quinton Coples is my favorite DE in this year’s Draft and, while I don’t think he’ll make it out of the top-10, he’s worth keeping an eye on. After all, DT Nick Fairley was at one time considered a candidate for the No. 1 overall pick in 2011, and the Lions were able to snag him at No. 12. Perhaps a more attainable prospect might be Alabama DE Courtney Upshaw, who the Bears could find themselves within reach of. I’d take him over Mercilus in a heartbeat. Guess we’ll see . . .

Filed under: Draft

Tags: Mike Mayock, Whitney Mercilus


Leave a comment
  • Again, I'm not sold on what this kid would bring to Chi short term. I see Da Bears as a legitimate contender NOW so we have to make sudden impact players a priority.

    I am however, in favor of Mark Barron, Kendall Wright, Stephon Gilmore, Michael Brockers, or Fletcher Cox. These guys would improve our team as a whole a lot better than Mercilus (IMO).

    Now, if he becomes a JPP clone, then the gamble would pay off. I'm just not willing to gamble that possiblity considering the talent that should be available at #19. And I reiterate, if situational pass-rushing is a need, draft the next Mark Anderson & not possibly the next Michael Haynes!

  • In reply to Alpha79:

    I'm w/ you on most.

  • We have to consider trading up to get Coples! I've seen this kid up close & personal for the past two seasons in Chapel Hill & his physical presence is extremely imposing. He fights off double- teams to tackle RB's, he flushes QB's into the arms of other teammates, he, to me, is a can't miss prospect who's unfairly taken unwarranted criticism for the collapse of UNC's football program & I think people need to evaluate this kid for what he is which is a complete MONSTER! Opposite Pepp, he could be a Pro-Bowler this year! Not hyperbole, just my honest evaluation of the most dominate lineman in college I've seen since Suh.


  • I have some concerns with Couples. His 2011 season didn't really jump out to me and him coming out saying he gave a "C effort" his final season turned me off.

    Mercilus has some concerns, but effort isn't one of them.

  • In reply to Dominique Blanton:

    I'm somewhere between you two on this, I think. I'm not sure if I'd trade up for Coples (I might) . . . but I don't really think Mercilus is first-round talent. I could be wrong. This is certainly not an exact science. Plus, I trust the time you've put in on him. I wouldn't be upset if the Bears drafted him, I just have my worries.

  • In reply to Adam Oestmann:

    I'm not completely turned off by Couples though and think the Bears have the coaches and veterans to get the most out of his potential. Just from a pass rush perspective I think Mercilus has a lot more potential than Couples.

    Do like the fact that Couples is a more complete DE than Mercilus though.

  • In reply to Dominique Blanton:

    Coming into the 2011 season Quinton Coples was viewed as a Top 3 draft pick. His statistics this year reflect offensive gameplanning designed to eliminate his effectiveness. I am a resident of Raleigh/Durham so UNC games were made available to me every weekend. I had vested interest in UNC's defense because a cousin of mine (Kendrick Burney) was considered an NFL prospect at the time. Needless to say that the one guy that always stood out on film was #90 -- the aforementioned Coples.

    After also following Peppers since college, I see the exact football characteristics between the two. Peppers production is mired only because you're so afraid of what he's capable of, that you are willing to go the extra mile to avoid him. No one in my opinion has had statistical setbacks for this very reason other than Julius Peppers - so [we] should understand or at least empathise with the young Coples' frustrations.

    Look, the 'C' effort comment was a way to downplay his stat-decline. I think he did get frustrated chasing plays from the backside that were designed to stay away from him but other than that I have absolutely no worries about effort! And if "scouts" were actually paying attention as much as I have the past two years they would come away with one conclusion: this kid is an OC's worst nightmare! #BankIt

  • In reply to Alpha79:

    I take you for your word Alpha since you watched/studied him a little more closely than I have. I think he has a ton of potential and would like to see him surrounded with the right coaching staff (Bears are one of those teams).

  • It has occurred to me that the Bears might draft one of the two pass rushing LB's in the first round too in order to bring heat on third down or long yardage situations as a DE and groom as Will LB.

    I am not as down on Mercilus as many here are and I don't think he will be the next Michael Haynes...but I am not looking at all the film and evaluations. I believe if the Bears take Mercilus at 19, it will be because they had data saying he was the guy and I will live with that until proven wrong.

    I think a DT in the first round would be ok, but I truly believe Melton and Toina/Paea are entrenched as starters so a DT will be a role player to start with. Although, I would be happy as a pig in slop to see us land Fletcher Cox...I'm not quite as high on Brockers, but I think he may be available at 19. I am not a Poe fan...too big for our system.

  • In reply to Mouser:

    GM Mouser,

    We're one chop-block away from having just two viable DT's on our roster...not good bro! Though you're right, I'm late to the Cox train but I've been watching a lot of tape on possible draft picks for the Bears & this guy reminds me of a young Tommie Harris!

    But DT is more a priority at this point to me than DE. At least we can slide Melton out wide in certain situations if we sured up our DT depth.

    But hey fellas, we have a lot to be excited about & I cant wait to interact with you guys draft weekend! I enjoy all of your analysis

  • We're getting close now and we all have read and studied alot...so just 6 days away, this is what I think....

    I believe the Bears will select DE, DT, S, CB and LB...the only offensive player they may take will be a LT ... high 1 or 2 if the right guy falls but if not, it will be round 5-7. I will bet the Bears will not select a WR at all or at least not before round 5...why do I say that? Because, it is what the Bears do for one and secondly, they signed the FA from the Giants...who imo will substitute for a pick.

    My conclusions are drawn soley from watching the FA activity of the Bears along with past history and current needs. The need additional help on DL and Safety and maybe one good LB. Status quo for offense as they have signed QB, RB, WR and Guard (maybe?). Those moves, after the draft is over, will prove to be telegraphing their intentions but this is our first draft with Emery....my secret hope is for Couples to fall close enough for the Bears to trade up and snatch him....maybe a pipedream but hey...I have 6 days to kill till game day.

Leave a comment