Whitney Mercilus (born July 21, 1990) is an American football outside linebacker for the Houston Texans of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football for the University of Illinois and was recognized as a unanimous All-American. He was selected by the Texans in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft, and was considered one of the best defensive end prospects for 2012.
Mercilus with the Houston Texans in 2012
|No. 59 – Houston Texans|
|Born:||July 21, 1990|
|Height:||6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)|
|Weight:||258 lb (117 kg)|
|High school:||Akron (OH) Garfield|
|NFL Draft:||2012 / Round: 1 / Pick: 26|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics as of Week 12, 2019|
Mercilus is of Haitian descent, and was born in Akron, Ohio. He attended Garfield High School in Akron, where he played high school football for the Garfield High School Rams. He was considered a three-star defensive end prospect by the Rivals.com recruiting service.
Mercilus attended the University of Illinois, where he played for head coach Ron Zook's Illinois Fighting Illini football team from 2009 to 2011. He broke out during his junior season in 2011, leading the country in quarterback sacks (16) and forced fumbles (9) while primarily playing at the defensive end position. At the conclusion of the 2011 season, Mercilus was a first-team All-Big Ten selection by both the coaches and media. He won the 2011 Ted Hendricks Award, 2011 Bill Willis Award, and 2011 CFPA Defensive Performer of the Year, in addition to being recognized as a unanimous first-team All-American.
On January 3, 2012, Mercilus announced his decision to forgo his remaining eligibility and enter the 2012 NFL Draft. He attended the NFL Scouting Combine and completed all of the combine drills. Mercilus finished with the fourth fastest time among all defensive ends in the 40-yard dash. On March 6, 2012, Mercilus attended Illinois’ pro day, but opted to stand on the majority of his combine numbers. He performed positional drills and improved his time in the short shuttle (4.47s) and three-cone drill (7.03s). Whitney attended Detroit Lions, Cleveland Browns, Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Dallas Cowboys. At the conclusion of the pre-draft process, Mercilus was projected to be a first round pick by NFL draft experts and scouts. He was ranked as the third best defensive end prospect in the draft by DraftScout.com and was ranked the third best outside linebacker by NFL analyst Mike Mayock.
|Ht||Wt||Arm length||Hand size||40-yard dash||10-yd split||20-yd split||20-ss||3-cone||Vert jump||Broad||BP|
|6 ft 3 5⁄8 in
|33 7⁄8 in
|9 1⁄4 in
|4.68 s||1.58 s||2.69 s||4.53 s||7.17 s||32 in
|9 ft 10 in
|All values from NFL Combine|
The Houston Texans selected Mercilus in the first round (26th overall) of the 2012 NFL Draft. Mercilus was the fifth defensive end drafted in 2012. He was the highest selected Illinois defensive lineman since Simeon Rice was drafted third overall by the Arizona Cardinals in 1996. Immediately after the draft, Texans’ defensive coordinator Wade Phillips stated that Mercilus would be moved to outside linebacker.
|Texans draft Whitney Mercilus 26th overall|
Throughout training camp, Mercilus competed to be a starting outside linebacker against Connor Barwin and Brooks Reed after the role was left vacant by the departure of Mario Williams. Head coach Gary Kubiak named Mercilus a backup outside linebacker to start the regular season, behind Connor Barwin and Brooks Reed.
He made his professional regular season debut in the Houston Texans’ season-opening 30–10 victory over the Miami Dolphins. Through the first six games of the season, Mercilus mostly saw work on special teams. On October 27, 2012, Mercilus recorded three combined tackles, broke up a pass, and made his first career sack during a 43–13 win against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 7. Mercilus recorded his first career sack for a four-yard loss on Ravens’ quarterback Joe Flacco and forced a fumble that was recovered by Ravens’ center Matt Birk during the first quarter. In Week 12, he collected a season-high four solo tackles during a 34–31 victory at the Detroit Lions. On December 2, 2012, Mercilus earned his first career start after Brooks Reed suffered a groin injury. Mercilus finished the Texans’ 24–10 victory at the Tennessee Titans with two solo tackles and made a season-high two sacks on Titans’ quarterback Jake Locker. He finished his rookie season in 2012 with 25 combined tackles (20 solo), six sacks, and one pass deflection in 16 games and four starts.
The Houston Texans finished first in the AFC South with a 12–4 record and earned a playoff berth. On January 5, 2013, Mercilus appeared in his first career playoff game as the Texans defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 19–13 in the AFC Wildcard Game. The following week, the Houston Texans were eliminated from the playoffs after a 41–28 loss at the New England Patriots in the AFC Divisional Round.
Mercilus entered training camp slated as a starting outside linebacker after Connor Barwin departed in free agency. Head coach Gary Kubiak named Mercilus and Brooks Reed the starting outside linebackers to begin the regular season. They started alongside inside linebackers Brian Cushing and Joe Mays.
He started in the Houston Texans’ season-opener at the San Diego Chargers and recorded five solo tackles and one sack during their 31–28 victory. In Week 4, he collected six combined tackles and recorded a season-high 2.5 sacks as the Texans lost to the Seattle Seahawks 23–20. On November 24, 2013, Mercilus collected a season-high six solo tackles during a 13–6 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 12. On December 6, 2013, the Houston Texans fired head coach Gary Kubiak after they fell to a 2–11 record. Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips was named the interim head coach for the rest of the season. Mercilus started in all 16 games in 2013 and recorded 47 combined tackles (33 solo) and seven sacks.
On January 3, 2014, the Houston Texans hired Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien. Defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel retained Mercilus as a starting outside linebacker. Mercilus started alongside Jadeveon Clowney and inside linebackers Brian Cushing and Jeff Tarpinian. On November 1, 2014, Mercilus collected a season-high nine combined tackles and made two sacks during a 31-21 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Mercilus was inactive for the Houston Texans’ Week 15 loss at the Tennessee Titans due to a back injury. Mercilus finished the season with 50 combined tackles (31 solo) and five sacks in 15 games and 13 starts.
On May 4, 2015, the Houston Texans signed Mercilus to a four-year, $26 million contract extension with $10.68 million guaranteed and a signing bonus of $5.25 million. Mercilus entered training camp slated as a starting outside linebacker, but saw some minor competition from John Simon after he impressed coaches while filling in for Jadeveon Clowney during camp. Head coach Bill O’Brien retained Mercilus and Clowney as the starting outside linebackers to begin the regular season in 2015.
On November 1, 2015, Mercilus collected a season-high seven combined tackles and recorded 3.5 sacks as the Texans earned a 20–6 victory against the Houston Texans in Week 8. In Week 17, Mercilus recorded five combined tackles and tied his season-high of 3.5 sacks during a 30–6 victory against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Mercilus finished the 2015 NFL season with 52 combined tackles (32 solo), a career-high 12 sacks, and two pass deflections in 16 games and ten starts.
The Houston Texans finished first in the AFC South with a 9–7 record and earned a wildcard berth. On January 9, 2016, Mercilus started his first career playoff game and recorded eight combined tackles and made three sacks on Chiefs’ quarterback Alex Smith during a 30–0 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Wildcard Game.
Mercilus entered training camp slated as a starting outside linebacker. Head coach Bill O’Brien names Mercilus and Jadeveon Clowney the starting outside linebackers to begin the season, alongside Brian Cushing and Benardrick McKinney. He started in the Houston Texans’ season-opener against the Chicago Bears and recorded four combined tackles and made a season-high two sacks during their 23–14 victory. In Week 4, he collected a season-high seven combined tackles during a 27–20 victory against the Tennessee Titans. Mercilus was inactive for the Texans’ Week 15 victory against the Jacksonville Jaguars after aggravating a back injury. Mercilus finished the 2016 NFL season with 53 combined tackles (36 solo), 7.5 sacks, and a pass deflection in 15 games and 15 starts. Mercilus was awarded Second Team All Pro 2016 in recognition of his successful 2016 season.
The Houston Texans finished atop the AFC South with a 9–7 record. On January 7, 2017, Mercilus recorded seven combined tackles and made two sacks on Raiders’ quarterback Connor Cook as the Texans defeated the Oakland Raiders 27–14 in the AFC Wildcard Game. The following week, he made four combined tackles and one sack during the Texans’ 34–16 loss at the New England Patriots in the AFC Divisional Round.
Defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel retained Mercilus and Jadeveon Clowney as the starting outside linebackers in 2017. They started alongside Benardrick McKinney and Brian Cushing. On October 8, 2017, Mercilus suffered a torn pectoral during a 42–34 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday Night Football in a Week 5. On October 11, 2017, the Houston Texans officially placed Mercilus on injured reserve for the remainder of the season. He finished the season with 10 combined tackles (nine solo), one sack, and a forced fumble in five games and five starts.
In Week 1 against the New Orleans Saints, Mercilus sacked and intercepted Drew Brees in the 30-28 loss. In Week 2 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Mercilus sacked Gardner Minshew twice and recorded two forced fumbles as the Texans won 13-12, earning him AFC Defensive Player of the Week. In week 3 against the Los Angeles Chargers, Mercilus forced Philip Rivers to fumble the football once as the Texans won 27-20.  In week 7 against the Indianapolis Colts, Mercilus recovered a fumble by quarterback Jacoby Brissett in the 30-23 loss. 
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