Film Room: Illinois vs UCLA

Whitney Mercilus Patriots Draft

Illinois DE Whitney Mercilus has had a fantastic season rushing the passer. (Photo: ICON SMI)

NEPD Staff Writer: Doug Kyed

If you were looking for UCLA 2012 NFL Draft prospects in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, you might still be hungry. Luckily, Illinois had some nice future NFL players on display.

#85 Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois
-Got a really good jump on the snap, possibly offsides, to get pressure on QB.
-Has a hard time to get out of grasp when engaged man on man.
-Put a swim move on left tackle to get past hold for sack.
-Great pursuit on sweep for 6 yard tackle for loss.
-Mercilus is either getting a crazy just on the snap or he jumped offside again.
-Rarely plays on first downs.
-Good pursuit on QB keeper, didn’t flash great speed though. Still a big tackle for loss.
-Sheds block really well on counter to stop for a loss.
-Holds ground pretty well against the run, rarely gets pushed back.
-Gets to the QB for second sack despite being blatantly held. Overpowers T.
-Doesn’t show off a great burst at the line. Reads snap count well, but doesn’t fly off.
-Gets pressure again pushing T inside, sliding off his outside shoulder.
-Gets pressure rushing standing up. I’ve only seen him stand up at the line a few times now.
-Seems to mostly just use a bull rush, will need to develop better moves to get past NFL tackles.
-Gets pretty consistent pressure on QB.
-Looks like a second rounder to me. Definitely a great college pass rusher, but might not have good enough moves at the next level to consistently get to the QB. Showed enough vs. run to not be a complete liability, but will still likely be a sub rusher. Just a junior.

#71 Jeff Allen, T, Illinois
-Has an easy matchup today vs. pass rush, UCLA only has 13 sacks all season.
-Moves between RT and LT.
-Keeps low on back pedal, inconsistent footwork allows pressure to the outside.
-Doesn’t show great form in pull block.
-Has done a really nice job keeping UCLA defenders away from his QB.
-I continue to be really impressed with his knee bend in pass blocking. Keeps low really well. Benefitted by being slightly undersized.
-Looks slow on pull block.
-Could play guard or tackle at the next level. Has average size and athleticism. Probably best suited for tackle, but could be held back by size and mobility. Showed really nice pass blocking skills, but it was also against UCLA. Fifth or sixth rounder.

#8 AJ Jenkins, WR, Illinois
-Ran a lazy route to sideline on first target.
-He’s looked at early and often, but haven’t connected yet.
-Finally makes a nice catch in traffic. Hadn’t been overly aggressive to get to the ball before.
-Nice quick footwork, caught the ball away from his body on short out route, didn’t get enough for first down though.
-Showed off good speed on double reverse. Gained 15 yards, didn’t show off any special moves.
-Slightly overthrown, but drops a catch off his fingertips while he’s wide open.
-Two poor throws results in two missed targets in a row.
-Gets nowhere on screen, blockers didn’t help him out much.
-Finally a breakout play, showed great footwork at the line to break free from defender. Made a great catch away from his body and broke free for a TD.
-Used on a lot of screens, unfortunately the blocking is never there for him.
-Showed off really nice hands and footwork. Could work on route running. Had a breakout season in 2011 with 90 receptions and almost 1300 yards. Has above average size and speed. Deep WR class, but should be a third or fourth round prospect.

#3 Tavon Wilson, S, Illinois
-Looks good in backpedal. Lined up at CB early.
-Did a really nice job covering big 6’3” WR Taylor Embree. Stayed with him, turned his head and deflected the pass.
-Breaks up pass intended for Fauria, turned his head at last minute, but sticks with the big tight end well.
-Stood up running back for two yard tackle for loss from the corner. Nice instincts from corner, read play well.
-Beat by Embree for a TD, didn’t turn for ball, stayed on him, but a nice throw to a taller WR.
-Really impressive against the run from all positions. Has stayed in corner most of the game.
-Gets a great jump on CB blitz. Play results in botched reverse recovered by Illinois.
-All over Fauria in coverage on throw to end zone.
-Drills QB for five yard loss on option.
-Came away really impressed by Wilson. Played outside, in the slot, at safety and in a rover type role. Blitzes well, reads the play quickly and is solid in coverage. Could play safety or in the slot at the pro level. Likely a seventh rounder, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him drafted earlier.

#8 Joseph Fauria, TE, UCLA
-Shows off nice hands on first reception, catches ball away from his body.
-Nice route, caught ball against body, but fought for more yards.
-Showed off some nice run blocking skills downfield on long run.
-Stood up Mercilus on run. Aggressive at the line.
-Shows off strength pushing off hard against DB on route, comes back on curl for the reception.
-Really hard to cover and tackle after the catch.
-Could definitely afford to bulk up, looks like a wide out.
-Couldn’t snag diving attempt at a reception.
-Really nice route runner.
-Catches pass over the middle, takes 5 defenders to drag him down.
-Just a junior, likely won’t come out this year. Huge target at 6-8 250 had a great year with 39 catches, 489 yards and six touchdowns. Christian Fauria’s nephew. Above average speed, could be a second day prospect with a solid offseason.

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