Chicago Sun-Times

Mel Kiper: Mercilus 'would look good in a Bear uniform'

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Like almost anyone else who has parlayed the impact of television and his own forceful personality into king-of-the-hill success, ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper probably is everything both his supporters and detractors think he is.

Whether or not he's the best or the worst NFL draft expert in the world, he has two things going for him that are undeniable: He does his homework and he's been doing it for a long time -- since 1979 to be exact.

No matter how often he might strike out, he's hit enough home runs to be respected. He had Jerry Rice going fourth overall in 1985 (the 49ers took him at No. 16), Randy Moss seventh in 1998 (the Vikings took him at No. 21) and Aaron Rodgers third in 2005 (the Packers took him at No. 24). Even on his worst day, Mel is at least Adam Dunn.

So while there literally are hundreds of mock drafts available on the internet, Mel Kiper's is worthy of more respect than most. And he has the Bears taking Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus with the 19th pick of the first round.

''I don't like one-year wonders,'' he said, referring to Mercilus' breakout junior season with a nation-leading 16 sacks and nine forced fumbles. ''But you're not taking him in the top 10-15. He would look good in a Bear uniform.''

What's to like?

''[He's] 6-3 1/2, 260-265 pounds, strong in the upper body [and] closes well,'' Kiper said Wednesday in a teleconference with reporters. ''I like the fact that he's a natural pass rusher. He's got natural pass-rush instincts and natural pass-rush moves, which is critical moving forward in the NFL. He plays the run adequately.''

Kiper, like many NFL scouts, would like to have seen more from Mercilus. But he also sounded like he had seen enough. ''If he would have played one more year at Illinois, he'd have been up there where Simeon Rice was, in the top five.''

That's an interesting reference, because Kiper actually thought Rice stayed a year too long at Illinois. He said Rice would have been the No. 1 pick in the 1995 draft had he come out after his junior year, when he had 16 sacks.

Rice, a Chicagoan from Simeon High School, stayed at Illinois for his senior year, but his draft stock appeared to drop after he had 12 sacks, but a subpar second half of the season. Kiper had him going 15th overall in his initial 1996 mock draft, then seventh just prior to the draft. He went No. 3 overall to the Arizona Cardinals. A four-time all-pro, Rice had 122 sacks in 12 NFL seasons -- 13th on the NFL's all-time list.

Mercilus doesn't rate as highly as Rice did, but he has many of the attributes that made Rice the No. 3 pick in the 1996 draft: a great athlete with natural pass-rush skills, long arms and closing speed. And he has one attribute that scouts didn't see in Rice: ''Motivated.''

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He's motivated? But Rice wasn't, you know who else wasn't motivated? Peppers, Randy Moss, Dent, Cutler (his posture made him unmotivated), Reggie White was motivated but was just to darn nice to play football, McNabb, and the list goes on and on. Everytime a player does not have the ultimate season someone says he is unmotivated.

I keep wondering how they compare the two players college play? You know Rice played OLB for Illinois not DE.

But basically what I just read is that a motivated Mercilus, does not rate as highly as an unmotivated Rice. So when he is giving it his all he is not as good as when Rice when he wasn't trying. And this should excite me why? Similar height? Similar arm length?

Not that I dislike the kid, but I think I would like to hear the draft mock guru's actually be a little more concrete. They tend to be so vague when they talk about players, it's like a Tarot card reading. That way they can always claim they were right about a guy. "I told you he would be drafted and that he would look good in the uniform, look at him he looks great, navy blue is a great color on him." What does he do well? "He rushes the passer well, in college." No but can you be a little more concrete. Do certain plays give hiim problems? "16 sacks last year in college" Well against the run what kind of plays give him problems? "He is somwhat adequte against the run." Yeah but what kind of plays give him problems? Is it the power run game, stretch plays, counters, sweeps, tosses?

Anyway I don't know how much it matters these days for him to be good at stuffing the run. Forte had a nice year running off end, lots of teams did. Mostly because defenses league wide are geared towards edge rushing and not run force. Then again if the Bears do anything well on defense it's taking away the outside run. Probably the best pursuit team in the league.

Bears don't rotate much at end, kid could fit in but he would be situational. I would still rather see a DT who can control the A-Gap which is the Bears biggest weakness along the d-line. Look for a situational pass rusher latter.

Whitney Mercilus looks to be the most promising pass rusher coming out. He might not be ready to be an every down player yet, but, Chicago has Isarel Idonije to keep the seat warm for Mercilus till he is ready. I think thats the plan anyways, Idonije was only signed to a 1 year deal. Chicago rotates their linemen anyways, Mercilus could come in as a rookie and give Chicago a great edge rusher. I say draft him.

There are a couple other options at end in the first for Chicago if Mercilus is gone by #19. You have Alabama's Courtney Upshaw, a little undersized at 6-2, don't count Upshaw out due to his size although, there have been other ends who have made an impact who were undersized, Dwight Freeney 6-1, and Elvis Dumervil 5-11 to name a couple. Upshaw thrashes blockers with great hand and arm action as a pass rusher and was among the SEC leaders with 17 tackles for loss. Another first round option is USC's Nick Perry, who led the Pac-10 in sacks and beat potential first round tackle Jonathan Martin of Stanford for a sack. And if the Bears go with South Carolina cornerback Stephon Gilmore in the first, Vinny Curry of Marshall is a nice option at DE in the second. Mercilus is still #1 on my wish list, gonna be interesting GO BEARS!!

This is nice and all, but what the Bears need most is a left tackle. I also agree with Creighton, they need a DT a lot more than a DE. I know it's not good to draft for a position, but the Bears are so weak at left tackle and their top defensive players are all old, they need to get a good LT right now. I suppose it's possible to pick someone up after the draft or when teams begin cutting players, but they'd better do something about that position.

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This page contains a single entry by Mark Potash published on April 20, 2012 10:58 AM.

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