Whitney Mercilus shows off his quick first step

AP

Whitney Mercilus of Illinois was one of the best pass rushers in college football last season, and he’s showing at the Scouting Combine that he has just the kind of quick first step that NFL teams look for in a pass rusher.

Mercilus ran the 40-yard dash in an unofficial time of 4.63 seconds, but the 10-yard split may be more important than the full 40-yard time for defensive linemen, and Mercilus had a very good 10-yard split of 1.57 seconds.

“I come off the line — I have a good first step,” Mercilus told reporters over the weekend. “I’m able to come off the line pretty quickly. Definitely I’m able to wear out players, too. I have a never-ending motor, and I’m able to keep going until the fourth quarter until somebody is dog tired and just take advantage of them.”

Although his workout numbers are great, the more important number is 16: That’s how many sacks Mercilus had last season.

“It’s just going out and there and getting it each and every down, each and every game,” Mercilus said. “There’s no fluke to it, 16 is 16. There’s no way you can just fall onto a sack.”

Mercilus decided to leave Illinois with one year of eligibility remaining after the NFL draft advisory board gave him a third-round grade. He may be boosting that stock today.