Whitney is a great name for a diva, not so much a football player. Not that anyone tells that to the Houston Texans first-round draft pick of the same name. For Whitney, the Illinois defensive end taken No. 26 on Thursday night, has a surname that's as menacing as his first name is gentle.
That's pronounced the way you think: MER-sil-us. There are dozens of jokes to be had here but, rest assured, Chris Berman said them all during ESPN's draft coverage. He won't be the last either. Until we see a guy named "destroyer" or "punisher" or "reincarnation of LT," that's going to stand as one of the best football names of all time.
Mr. Mercilus watched the draft with his friends and family and, given the name, their celebration was appropriate, particularly the young lady who hops on his lap with reckless disregard.
Mercilus was a one-year wonder at Illinois and shot up draft boards with his athleticism and attacking skills.
Like most high-end pass rushing prospects, Mercilus has an explosive first step that allows him to beat blockers into the backfield. Unlike many other young pass rushers, Mercilus counters with an impressive inside move. Mercilus has another move which he calls the "double spike" in which he uses both his arms to swat away his blocker's hands while lowering his shoulder to turn the corner to the quarterback.
The most legendary football names -- Dick Butkus, Deacon Jones and Bronco Nagurski come to mind -- became synonymous with greatness because of the players' on-field success. None of those greats had the advantage of adjectives on their side.
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