I know some of you really want a DE in the first round and really I wouldn't be totally against a DE....Its a huge need....But here is an interesting article on Merling....I would want him over Balmer or Campbell....
CLEMSON — Phillip Merling’s agent Jimmy Sexton wasn’t so keen on the idea of the former Clemson defensive end having a pro day with the NFL Draft just two days away – in fact, he did not like it all.
“I just didn’t want him to get hurt,” Sexton said.
But Merling is a competitor, and the way he saw it, he had something to prove to the 15 or so NFL coaches and scouts that made it out to Clemson on Thursday to watch him run around cones, hit tackling dummies and drop back into coverage for 27 minutes.
“This was the most important thing for me,” he said. “I want to compete. I want to compete everyday.”
Merling wanted to compete because he was unable to do so in the NFL Combine this past February after it was discovered he suffered from a sports hernia, which he injured during camp last summer. A sports hernia occurs when there is a weakening of the muscles or tendons of the lower abdominal wall.
Soon after the combine, the 6-foot-5, 290-pound defensive end had surgery to correct the problem, keeping him out of commission up until about 10 days ago when he began training for his pro day. It was a risky move considering the draft is just two days away and he is almost a sure lock to be first-round pick in Saturday’s NFL Draft.
“For him being out here just the little bit of time that he has, I thought he did a good job,” Merling’s trainer and former New York Jets defensive line coach Deny Marcin said. “He held up well, did all the drills, cutting, I thought he did good.”
When word got out that Merling was suffering from the injury and had surgery, his draft stock – once projected as a top-10 pick – dropped to the middle or late first round.
Merling decided to work out Thursday to prove to NFL coaches and scouts that he was ready to play football and that the injury wasn’t going to hold him back.
“I wanted to show them that I can move,” he said. “I wasn’t trying to go for it or nothing but I just wanted to prove that I can move, and hopefully I proved to them that I’m healthy right now.”
Marcin clarified Merling, who declared himself eligible for the NFL Draft in January, wasn’t 100 percent in his workout, but that’s not what they were trying to prove the teams on hand, including coaches from Washington which brought team owner Daniel Snyder with them to see his workout.
“We told the guys he has only been out here for a couple of weeks. It’s not like he has been training for this for two months so I think he held up very well,” Marcin said. “They (Merling and his agent) felt he was ready enough, but the guys that are here know he isn’t 100 percent yet, but I was impressed. I thought he did well.”
Merling was definitely very impressive during his junior season at Clemson. His team-high 17 tackles for a loss, including team-best 7 sacks, never gave an indication he was playing hurt. He also finished the year ranked fifth on the squad with 78 tackles, 16 more tackles than last year’s No. 4 overall pick in the NFL Draft and former teammate Gaines Adams had during his senior year of 2006.
“Teams are worried about him having the surgery and if he is healthy,” Merling’s uncle and former position coach at Clemson Chris Rumph said. “If he is this, can he go? I think the purpose of this is to show that, ‘Yeah I’m not 100 percent, but I’m not out here limping on one leg and that I will be able to go by the time camp and stuff starts.’
“I know how competitive he is, and how bad he wanted to prove to people that he was healthy and was ready to go for the draft. Once he made his mind up that he wanted to go, Jimmy was like, ‘Okay let’s do it.’”
The question now is where will Merling go? Before Wednesday’s big trade that dealt Kansas City’s and the NFL’s leading pass rusher Jared Allen to Minnesota for their first-round pick, the thought was Merling might go to the Vikings at No. 17. Now, many so-called experts believe he will go to Washington at No. 21, though there is still a slight chance the Carolina Panthers might pick him up at No. 13, though doubtful.
The Pittsburgh Steelers, who were also in attendance Thursday and have the No. 23 pick, are also shopping for a defensive end of Merling’s size and athletic ability to maybe come in and be a backup to Aaron Smith the next couple of years. But it’s believed the Steelers will perhaps wait for the second or third round before picking up a defensive end.
Regardless, all the draft talk has Merling and his family spinning their heads around.
“I don’t know (where he will go), I’m not smart enough to figure that draft stuff out,” Rumph said when asked about where he thinks his nephew might go. “You have a couple of different guys. You got some guys that are all into the numbers and they want to see him run around in shorts and t-shirts. They look good, but when you put on the film, the film doesn’t match the workouts.
“But if you look at the film and watch this kid, it’s a no-brainier. Those are the two types of guys. There are teams that believe in the film and there are teams that believe in the workouts. It all depends on what they are looking for.”
Merling hopes they find what they’re looking for in him.
“They’re going to get a player – a football player,” he said. “I’m a football player. I’m going to compete every single day in practice on the football field. I don’t care if I play a three technique, at nose guard, linebacker or defensive end; I’m going to give it my all. I don’t care.”