I think that we have another shot at somebody that could very well be even better...Whitney Mercilus
When you think of what he could do across from Demarcus Ware in our defense, doesn't it just make you salivate just a little? Only one year of starting in his junior year and is compared to Jason Pierre Paul of the Giants. His size is almost identical to Demarcus Ware, and if he performs as expected at the combine, he would be a major steal at 14 if still available.
His drafting would fill two needs at once: Providing an instant upgrade to our pass rush opposite Demarcus Ware, and allowing us time to groom Ware's replacement without having to hit the panic button at the last moment.
I know it seems a little early to be thinking about the heir apparent to Ware, but he hits 30 this year. At that age the amount of grey is his hair begins to outnumber the number of sacks that he gets every season. In 3-4 years time a viable fulltime replacement will have to either already be on the roster, or we will have to have a high draft pick slotted to attempt to find it. Wouldn't it so much easier if we had already filled that need way before it was an emergency? In 3-4 more years we will also need to be thinking about a QB. Not enough high draft picks to go around at so many important positions.
His drafting would also fill the hole that is left by Anthony Spencer's probable departure unless we can resign him to a very low ball amount. Even if Spencer is retained, we will still need to improve the pass rush and Mercilus enables Rob Ryan the chance to be flexible in how he lines up his players as Mercilus has lined up all over the front 7 in his time at Illinois. Inside, at DE, or standing up which would be his primary position in our defense.
What I like about him is not only his performance as a first year starter, but his potential to grow. His technique is still raw and still he performed more than capably against top competition. The highly thought of offensive lines of Wisconsin and Ohio State could not contain him from making plays. He led the nation in sacks, and showed a penchant for generating the turnover as well.
I'm aware of the need for multiple players of quality in this years draft. Rarely do players with the potential to be game changers come along. A player that has the ability to make everyone else around him better is even rarer. Whitney Mercilus has the potential to be one of these kinds of players. This pick would come without the worries of character that Janoris Jenkins would bring, enable us to draft a interior offensive lineman in the later rounds that could be just as capable as Decastro, and give us more explosive potential than Upshaw would have. He has the size that makes you confident that he can handle the rigors of the league, and a nonstop motor that will help set the tone for our defense. A highly skilled technician as a pass rusher who can hold his ground in the running game, he can only improve as he learns from one of the best to ever play the game.
Any pick comes with risk. His has only had the one breakout year and he is coming out as a junior. The production even tho he is raw is apparent however. Other players that have been touted to have potential and lobbied to be drafted at 14 have far less production or athleticism.
Of course our needs entering this draft will be tempered by what help we secure in free agency. Of all the positions that we can fill in FA, pass rushing help not named Mario Williams is not one of them.