Todd McShay with some outside linebacker talk Dan Leberfeld
Here are some thoughts from ESPN’s draft guru, Todd McShay, on some of the outside linebacker/pass rushing prospects in the 2012 draft –
“Andre Branch is one out of Clemson who is still developing, but had a big year this year, doubled his sack production from a year ago. Ten and a half sacks this past year, not overly physical, but like I said, he can get to the quarterback. He was quick off the ball. He can bend the edge, very good body control, long arms, and I think his best football is still ahead of him.
“Same for Whitney Mercilus, the Illinois defensive end who had another guy who had best production by far for him was this past year. He was relentless as a pass rusher, all over the place, flying around the field. I don’t think he’s an elite athlete, but he certainly has the combination of size at 6’3” and a half, 261 pounds, and the burst you look for to get after the quarterback.
“Then you talk about the 16 sacks he had this past year, and nine forced fumbles. To me, that is one of the underrated statistics. I’m not a big stat guy, but I always look to see with these defensive ends, arm length, obviously sacks, and force fumbles.
“I think Sam Acho (Texas) is a great example from a year ago. Here’s a guy that I thought had average physical tools, but he’s constantly forcing fumbles and making big plays, and I think Whitney Mercilus has a chance to become an impact player at the next level.
“Couple other guys, Nick Perry from USC, good pass rusher. I’d like to see more consistency out of him, but a very good athlete. Probably in that late first, second round range. Vinny Curry (Marshall and Neptune, NJ) in the second round is underrated and has a chance to come in and become a good player, and consistent player.”