First round selection, Whitney Mercilus
The 26th selection in the 2012 NFL Draft, Whitney Mercilus was supposed to be the outside force that took advantage of the attention All-World defender J.J. Watt would command.
Weight: 258 Pounds
Career tackles: 174
Career sacks: 30
It wasn’t until 2015 that Mercilus turned into that presence Houston was hoping for when taking the early entrant from Illinois with that selection. Mercilus had an average of just six sacks per season before the season, but the Texans believed in him enough to extend him via a very respectable contract.
The move paid off as the outside linebacker passed the double digit mark in sacks for the first time in his career as he tallied 12. During his breakout season, he even earned some high praise from their defensive leader as Watt talked up the fourth year player.
"“You look at what Whitney did out there, he had 3.5 sacks. If you give him the one where he got the facemask penalty, it’s 4.5. The guy is playing great football, so you have to give him credit”"
With nearly an identical team around him for 2016 there’s no reason to think Mercilus can’t build upon the success he had last season.
2016 season prediction: 50 tackles, 10 sacks, 2 forced fumbles
Next: The first overall pick