Mel Kiper took part in a reporters' conference call recently to talk the NFL Draft, and when asked about defensive ends that may still be available to Detroit with the 23rd pick, two names in particular came up - Illinois' Whitney Mercilus and USC's Nick Perry. In general, Kiper is higher on Mercilus than Perry, but notes that the USC product might be a first-round option for some teams.
Well, I like Mercilus..., a guy that leads the nation in sacks, leads the nation in forced fumbles. I don't like one year wonders, but you're not taking him in the top 10 to 15 there at 23. I think he could actually go a little earlier than that. I think he would look good in a Bear uniform. But I think when you look at him and 6'3″ and a half, 260 to 265 pounds, strong in the upper body, closes well. I like the fact he's a natural pass rusher, got natural pass rush instinct and natural pass rush moves, which is critical moving forward in the NFL. He plays the run adequately. I think you look at a guy right there who with another year at Illinois, if he would have played one more year at Illinois, he would have been up there where Simeon Rice was, in the top five, Simeon Rice, the former great player at Illinois and a good player in the NFL. Bottom line with Mercilus, if you can get him at 23, you've got yourself value. I don't think he'll be there. I think Perry will be. I think Branch is more of a second-round pick.
I think Perry is a late one. Perry could also fit a 3-4 scheme. He's a pass rusher. He had a real good year a couple years ago, then a lackluster year the following season and came on this past year. So a little up and down during his career at USC, but a guy that did show the ability to put heat on the quarterback. I would think- Perry, that's borderline at 23.
A 'borderline' pick at 23 isn't really too far off the consensus, for everything that I've read. I've seen Perry mocked to the Seahawks at 12 and mocked to teams in the 2nd round, so as with anything, there are some varied opinions on him. The bottom line is that it appears he's a day one or early day two pick. Where he ends up though, is anyone's guess.