Texans player projection: Linebacker Whitney Mercilus


The Houston Texans are coming off a 9-7 season under first year head coach Bill O’Brien. Looking to improve on that record and make the playoffs in 2015, the team will need an even better effort from every player on the roster.

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We here at the Toro Times have begun to break down those players and predict what their season will look like for the Texans.

Today we look at a key member of the defensive unit, outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus, the recent recipient of a four-year, $26 million extension this offseason.

A look back

Mercilus was selected 26th overall by the Texans in 2012,  after posting 16 sacks in 2011 for the University of Illinois. He exploded his junior year after having only two sacks coming into that season for the Big Ten school.

Since coming to Houston he has not shown that same explosion he did during his final year in college. Mercilus’ top season for the Texans was 2013 when he recorded 47 tackles and seven sacks.

For his career he has 122 tackles and 18 sacks, which seems a bot low for the large extension he got. The Texans must believe that now with the departure of linebacker Brooks Reed (to Atlanta) and the injury history of fellow starting outside linebacker, Jadeveon Clowney that Mercilus is extremely important to the defense.

What to expect in 2015

Mercilus is the unquestioned starter and will receive more playing time than ever before in his career due to injuries and inexperience all around him at the outside backer position. The veteran player needs to become a more feared pass rusher and help take some pressure off Clowney as he tries to slowly return to action after microfracture knee surgery.

Look for Whitney to play more loose and free now that Reed is gone and there really are no threats around him to take his playing time. I feel this will be the year that it all clicks for the former Fighting Illini.

Another year under defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel will help as well, as the two will have a much better understanding of one another. I believe Crennel will put the linebacker in position to be a much better playmaker than he has been in the past.

Toro Times bold prediction

57 tackles, 9 sacks, 1 interception