Illinois' Mercilus explains '11 sack explosion


INDIANAPOLIS - When Jason Pierre-Paul was coming out of South Florida, the troubling detail affixed to the immensely talented young player was that he didn't have a ton of production over his college career. Another player of Haitian descent, Whitney Mercilus of Illinois, is facing the same critique. And drawing comparisons to Pierre-Paul athletically. Mercilus met with the media on Saturday at the NFL Combine and was happy to hear his name mentioned in the same breath as Pierre-Paul.
Yeah, of course. Hes in the NFL," said Mercilus. "If I can get compared to someone whos on the Giants like that right now, Im thankful for that. Yeah, Im just trying to upgrade my game and do things correctly, improve my pass-rush technique, be able to play the run a little bit better, just do things like and be a solid player overall.The other questions after his 16-sack, 9-forced fumble season for the Illini he can do without. I think its a negative label because once you have it, you have it," he said. "Once youre able to produce like that and you put it all together, in your mind, you know youre able to repeat that success.Mercilus says he's drawn interest from the Chargers, Bears and Bills. But with pass-rushers who can win quickly in 1-on-1 battles at a premium, there are surely many, many more teams with interest. The production question (the 6-3, 260-pound Mercilus had just two sacks in his first two seasons at Illinois) will come up.

I was still learning the game. I was still young. I was still a raw talent," Mercilus said when asked how he explains it."I showed signs of life. Showed flashes in games at times, and I just finally was able to put it all together."Theres no fluke to it16 is 16," he added. "Theres no way you can just fall onto a sack.Michael Strahan may beg to differ. But the better Giant to compare him to is probably JPP. So this player, who was given a third-round grade by the NFL's Draft Advisory Board before declaring for the draft early, may find the same fate awaiting him. A first-round selection.

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