Report: Illinois DE Whitney Mercilus expected to enter 2012 NFL Draft

Tony Pauline of NFL Draft Insider and SI.com tweeted over the weekend that Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus is expected to enter the 2012 NFL Draft.

Mercilus, a junior, leads the nation in sacks this season with 13.5. What's most impressive about that is that he's had at least one sack in all but two games (South Dakota State and Purdue).

Mercilus' game is based largely on his effort. He does't have a great first step or overall athleticism. But he's a non-stop player who finds a way to shed blocks. Mercilus also plays with great leverage and technique. Because he's 6-foot-5, he has long arms, and he's good at punching the offensive lineman back.

Because he's not an elite athlete, Mercilus' upside is limited. But if he continues to play asa he has this season, he should be a productive player at the next level. It's also a little concerning that this is really the only season in which Mercilus has seen extensive playing time. Hopefully he's not simply the next Robert Ayers.

Here is some highlights of Mercilus and Illinois against Arizona State earlier this season:

Thanks to the great JMPasq for cutting up the film.

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