The SB Nation two-round NFL mock draft continues along with each lead NFL team blogger making the pick for their team. Up now is the New England Patriots with the 27th pick.
With the 27th pick in the 2012 SB Nation NFL Writers Mock Draft, the New England Patriots select Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus.
Greg Knopping, managing editor of Pats Pulpit, is here to explain the final pick of the day after the jump. Make sure to check out PatsPulpit for more on the Patriots.
Greg Knopping explains: Heading into the 2012 NFL Draft, the Patriots desperately need to add a dynamic pass rusher to their front seven. Mark Anderson, the team’s co-leader in sacks in 2011, departed to the division rival Buffalo Bills on a contract that the Patriots determined was too steep to match. His pass rush counterpart from 2011, Andre Carter, remains an unrestricted free agent on the open market, as he is still recovering from a quad injury that landed him on injured reserve late last season.
The Patriots will likely want to add pieces at wide receiver, running back, interior offensive line, and 5-technique at some point in this draft. However, at 27, Illinois’ Whitney Mercilus possesses too much value to pass up at a position of need. While some are labeling Mercilus a "one year wonder," there’s no denying his talent or explosion as a pass rusher. He is relentless getting after the quarterback, and is always playing all-out in effort (unlike another prospect I considered, Penn State DT/DE Devon Still). He still has some work to go on his technique, but the athleticism and potential are definitely there. He has the size/speed the Patriots look for in their outside linebackers (6’4", 261 lbs, 4.68 40 yard dash), and even if he did not work out as an outside linebacker, he’d still be able to play a majority of the team’s snaps in four man fronts and sub-packages. At some point, the Patriots need to take a risk on a pass rusher who has high potential. Mercilus would be the perfect candidate for that.
Dan Kadar responds: Lets peel the SB Nation mock draft onion back a little on this pick. We run the draft a few days in advance in the back end to make sure the draft runs smoothly and doesn't get held up. For whatever reason, I thought Knopping would miss his pick by the deadline. When that happens, I have to make a pick for the team. It's less than ideal, but understandable.
What the point here? Knopping got his pick in, right at the last second. The ha-ha portion of this drawn out story is that I was about to write in Mercilus as the pick. So obviously I like the pick. Mercilus, if he lives up to his potential immediately, could be this draft's Aldon Smith. He should make an immediate impact in pass rush situations and get eased into playing the run. If Mercilus can be taught to play with consistency, he has the length and athleticism to hold down his position for years.
Mocking the Draft's Top 5 Remaining Prospects