Capable of playing multiple positions, Merrell will be a face of the 2013 defense under new coordinator Dave Cohen.
Spring Performance -- Merrell as back on the outside after playing 3-tech last season. Most natural as an edge rusher, Merrell worked exclusively as a defensive end during spring camp and was most successful as a run stuffer. With Merrell often leading the charge, Rutgers did not run the ball well in spring, specifically off the edge.
Merrell played 3-tech last season after multiple injuries inside but is a natural defensive end going into his senior season.
Expected 2013 Role -- Merrell is a starter and potential team captain for Rutgers this year. A vocal leader, Merrell has the most sacks of any player on the active roster. Rutgers rotates as many as eight or nine defensive linemen in its scheme, but Merrell will be on the field for most significant snaps if he can stay healthy.
Scouting Report -- Merrell embodies much of what defensive line coach Jim Panagos expects out of his defensive ends – a passion for football, toughness and explosive hands. Merrell spent his junior season battling inside to reach the quarterback. He has the strength to take on most tackles, but needs to re-adjust to the quickness aspect when rushing off the edge. He is the most experienced pass rusher on the Rutgers roster, but getting pressure on the quarterback as a defensive line has not been a strength for Rutgers in recent years.
From a technique standpoint, Merrell is quick off the snap and has good hands. The biggest adjustment this year will be fine-tuning the moves to beat tackles in pass protection.
The Bottom Line -- The only thing keeping Merrell away from All-Conference honors is the ability to put constant pressure on the quarterback. Improve the pass rush and Merrell becomes one of Rutgers' most valuable assets.