2012 NFL Draft: Grading the Houston Texans' Selection of Whitney Mercilus

James DudkoFeatured ColumnistApril 26, 2012

CHAMPAIGN, IL - OCTOBER 15:  Whitney Mercilus #85 of the Illinois Fighting Illini rushes against Jack Mewhort #74 of the Ohio State Buckeyes at Memorial Stadium on October 15, 2011 in Champaign, Illinois. Ohio State defeated Illinois 17-7.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

In the opinion of this author, the Houston Texans made the best pick in the first round when they added Illinois defensive end Whiteny Mercilus with the 26th-overall pick. Mercilus gives the Texans tremendous value, is a superb scheme fit and answers a need.

Mercilus enjoyed an outstanding 2011 season, as he dominated the collegiate level with 16 sacks and forced nine fumbles. He is the kind of naturally explosive pass-rusher Wade Phillips can quickly turn into a pro star.

Mercilus is blessed with outstanding off the snap speed and a quick first step. His a long-armed rusher with the kind of frame coordination Phillips loves in his primary pass-rusher.

Phillips rushes his outside linebackers on almost every play, so they are essentially standup defensive ends. Mercilus has the talent to single handedly generated top notch numbers and dominate games. 

Following the free-agent departure of Mario Williams, the Texans needed a dynamic pressure weapon. They coped well without Williams thanks to the combined efforts of a variety of players.

Mercilus has the size, speed and range of movement to be the main playmaker of an already strong defense. By putting him in a system that caters exclusively to what he does best, the Texans can ignore concerns about Mercilus simply being a one year wonder in college.

Grade: A+

The Texans drafted to the new strength of their team and managed to upgrade 2011's No. 2-ranked defense.