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Phillip Merling: Better Know a Draft Prospect

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The least you should know about Phillip Merling...
Height
6-4
Weight
276 lbs
40 Time
Did Not Run (Hernia)
Compares To:
JUSTIN TUCK-New York Giants...Both defensive ends will make a nice living coming off the edge. They have impressive size, though Merling is best playing on the move to utilize a sudden initial step to slip past blocks. He is not a good stack-and-control type and must do a better job of protecting himself from low blocks, but he is quick to provide outside run contain and shows a quick swim-and-spin move that generally gets him into the backfield to pressure the pocket. He won't read and react in an instant, but has closing speed to seal the deal, even in long pursuit, once he locates the ball. He has to improve his lower-body strength, but there is enough athletic ability there to get by as his body continues to mature.)
Fun Fact Interview
Growing up, who was your favorite NFL player and why? Julius Peppers - I like the way he plays the game.

In college, what player hit you the hardest? Who was the recipient of your best hit? Quarterback, Louisiana Monroe.

What TV-show marathon will keep you on the couch all day? Fresh Prince.

What are the five most-played songs in your iPod? What's the one song you hope nobody ever finds out is in your iPod? Young Jeezy.

What celebrity would play you in the movie version of your life and why? Shawn Marion - We look similar.

What is one thing your teammates don't know about you? I like reading.

What reality TV show would you like to be on and why? Flavor of Love - The girls.

What's your proudest moment in football? Proudest moment off the field? Beating Florida state; Best Cadet Award at Fork Union

When you play Madden, what team do you use? Do you put yourself on the team? Don't play Madden.

Who has been the biggest influence on your football career and how? Chris Rumph.

Who:
Phillip Blaine Merling, Defensive End, Clemson University, Born August 19th, 1985

The Stats:
Height: 6-4
Weight: 276 lbs
40 Yard Dash: Did Not Run at Combine or Pro Day, Pre-Combine 4.63, 4.73, 4.84
Bench Reps: 17, at Combine
Vertical Jump: Did Not Jump
Broad Jump: Did Not Jump
20 Yrd Shuttle: Did not Shuttle
NFL Draft Scout Prospect Ranking 3rd out of 165 DE's.

* Phillip did not participate in most drills at the combine and his pro day due to his recovery from recent Sports Hernia surgery.

College Career:
Phillip came to Clemson in 2005 as a sort of homecoming.  You see, Merling began his football career at Calhoun County High School where he was coached by his Uncle, Chris Rumpf.  When Phillip enrolled at Clemson University where he was coached by their Defensive Line Coach, Chris Rumpf.  Merling, amazingly, played both ways before coming to Clemson, being ranked as the 18th best Tight End in the Country by SuperPrep in 2004.  Once arriving at Clemson, Merling would stick to the defensive side of the ball and adapt to playing defensive end full time.    Merling played on 271 snaps in his freshman year, the fifth most of all freshman that season (at Clemson).

Phillip would work alongside another first round talent in Clemson's Gaines Adams.  Gaines would be the 4th overall pick in the draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  While working with Gaines, Merling would have 46 tackles and play in all 13 games.  Phillip's outstanding season is tempered by the dominant play of Adams on the other side of the line giving the talented player much to prove in his junior year.

Phillip Merling: Potential Draft Pick!

His 2007 campaign proved many skeptics wrong as he led Clemson in tackles for loss and sacks (17 and 7 respectively).  The ACC Named him "Defensive Lineman of the Week" three times.  78 total tackles and earned the teams "Rock Solid Award".  Overall Merling had 7 sacks for a total loss of 50 yards, 17 stops for losses for a total of 80 yards, and 21 noted quarterback pressures.  His best game would come against Boston College, were despite losing the game, Phillip had nine tackles, two sacks for big losses, and absolutely destroyed Freshman All-American Anthony Castonzo.  

Scouting Report: Strengths:
NFL Draft Countdown:

Terrific size and bulk with long arms...Great quickness...Has a non-stop motor...Is very strong and powerful...Plays with a nasty demeanor...Excellent range and he is relentless in pursuit...Natural pass rusher with a variety of moves...Can take on multiple blockers and shed the double team...Does a nice job versus the run...Has good instincts & awareness...Reliable tackler...Solid technician...Does a nice job in space...Extremely versatile...Can play a number of positions in different schemes.

NFL Draft Scout :

Well-built with thick legs and long arms, tight waist and hips, and minimal body fat...High-energy player who is best on the move, showing better ability to make plays along the edge than working inside...Flashes good explosion off the ball and has decent anchor and leverage ability to hold ground vs. isolated blockers at the point of attack...Quick off the edge and shows good hustle to the ball, utilizing his upfield burst to give him an advantage over the large, slower blockers...Extends his arms well to keep blockers off him and has the swim move lateral agility to excel coming from the backside...Shows good breakdown and body control in his tackling form, using his long arms to capture ballcarriers in space...Reads hats well and reacts to the play effectively, showing the ball awareness instincts on the move to neutralize and redirect the outside running lanes...Shows good balance in his moves down the line, demonstrating the knee bend to keep his feet on the move...Easily defeats blocks with his speed, showing the ability to dip and turn the corner in a flash...Disengages quickly from his man to move toward the ball and plays until the whistle, showing an explosive closing burst...Has that extra surge to consistently finish off his blocks, taking good angles to pressure the pocket...Still needs to improve his overall strength, but he has enough raw power to deliver pop when making contact with the quarterback and when he keeps his pads down and uses his hands, he can control the fullback and clog the rushing lanes...

Scout.com:

More complete then Gaines Adams.

Scouting Report: Weaknesses

NFL Draft Countdown:

May lack elite athleticism...Won't scare anyone off the edge...Does not have great timed speed and isn't real explosive...Might be a bit of a 'tweener...He can be too aggressive at times...Will get pushed back...Needs to work on his hand use...Has to work on keeping his shoulders square...Intelligence could be an issue with him.

NFL Draft Scout:

Needs to improve his hand play -- he sometimes struggles to disengage once blockers lock on -- and keep blockers off his feet...Best on the move when he sets his base, but he will turn his shoulders and get sealed off at the point of attack...Seems to recognize the ball quicker when he's on the move rather than working through a crowd inside...His lower-body frame lacks the power to take on bulky blockers with consistency, and he shows a decent anchor vs. tight ends and backs, but he can still be driven off the ball when offensive linemen go directly at him...Despite his quickness and urgency coming off the edge, he still needs to develop rush moves (club and rip are lacking, but his swim move is very effective), as he relies too much on quickness to separate...Gets caught up by double-team activity inside and must protect himself better because he doesn't have the raw power needed to split double teams...Plays with a good motor, but will get frustrated and shut down when the bigger blockers consistently neutralize him.

Sports Hernia: What's that mean for us?

Phillip has skipped the majority of "draft season" workouts because of recent surgery on a Sports Hernia.  A Sports Hernia is a small muscle tear along the hip joint or abdominal wall.  Athletes in Soccer and Hockey are most effected, but repetitive opening of the hips that puts pressure on that area can cause a tear.   The current way to treat a sports hernia through surgery involves small laparoscopic instruments and uses a small mesh like material to hold everything in place.    Only a few surgons perform this procedure, though Dr. Cattey claims a 96 percent success rate.  Accodring to Catley, athletes can return to their sport in as few as four to six weeks.  

What that means for Merling and the Jaguars is that while the Injury might scare away a few teams, the injury increases the likelihood that Merling "falls" to the Jaguars at pick 26.   There is a risk in taking a player with this type of injury that they don't regain their burst and movement as they were before the surgery.  We could be, in essence, drafting damaged goods, something that after Brian Smith and Mike Waker, I'd really like to avoid.  

Final Thought:
If he's healthy, I'd love to see him fall to the Jaguars...If he's healthy.

-Chris

Better Know a Draft Prospect: The Series: