The Packers defense needs to start invoking merciless pressure, and what better way to do it than to draft Mr. Mercilus himself?
If somehow this guy is available by the 20th-28th selection, expect the Packers to be all over this pick whether by trading up or if Mercilus falls to 28th.
Playmaking seemed to come in bunches for this young man with ideal 3-4 OLB size and impressive speed.
Mercilus was second in the history of the NCAA in forced fumbles in a season with nine in 2011.
Add that to 22.5 tackles for loss (third in Illinois' history and second in the NCAA last year) while leading the nation with 16 sacks and you're looking at a beast to tandem alongside Mathews.
Mercilus plays with a Clay-like motor, a trait that energizes the entire defense and helps create that "swarming" effect so-often noted of great defenses.
That said, question marks remain.
Mercilus only was productive for one year and declared for the draft early in light of this off-the-charts year. He's fairly unpolished in fundamentals and lacks consistent technique ("pad level" as Mike McCarthy would say).
With his family being Haitian immigrants as well as a similar playing style, Mercilus may compare well to Jason Pierre-Paul of the Giants. Many wondered about Pierre-Paul's lack of football experience, but the results in the pros are pretty impressive.
Is Mercilus a similar case study?
Another question is whether Mercilus would adapt quickly from being a 4-3 style, hand-on-the ground DE at Illinois to a 3-4 OLB. In base defense, if Mercilus were drafted, someone in the LB corps would have to handle covering the TE or even a slot receiver at times.
With ILB Desmond Bishop's strengths being stout run support and rushing the passer and counterpart A.J. Hawk having a down year, would the Packers be able to compensate with essentially four LBs who can't cover well?
My take: Mercilus would allow Capers to do more as far as dictating what the offense does through an aggressive blitz-scheme attack, rather than the numerous three-man rushes and conservative approaches witnessed in the Giants game, which allowed Eli Manning the time to look like a world beater.
Capers preaches that he wants to force the offense to change for his aggressive defense, but in 2011 the defense failed to deliver in this regard—especially in contrast to 2010's impressive showing with nearly identical personnel.
Mercilus would be a significant upgrade in being able to create exotic pressures from all over the place. Since Mathews can switch sides, the ILBs could do cross-blitzes and some of the guys in the secondary, particularly Woodson, have the ability to put pressure too.
With Mercilus, the Packers could rush four effectively without sacrificing coverage guys as extra blitzers.