Top End Falling: Available for Jaguars?

With recent news of a previously undisclosed injury, find out which top-tiered defensive end's stock is falling in the draft.

Clemson's giant 6'4", 276 lb. defensive end Phillip Merling, who was rated as a top 10-15 pick just a week ago, seems to be dropping due to a surgical procedure he underwent recently to repair a sports hernia. Merling didn't work out at the combine due to a groin injury, and scouts don't really have many measurables to go on when evaluating the Clemson star.

Merling's 2007 junior campaign at Clemson was disappointing to some, but he still finished with 78 tackles, 17 for loss, and 7 sacks. In 2006, Merling had 46 tackles and 10 tackles for loss while playing opposite top 5 pick Gaines Adams. Merling decided to enter the NFL draft after his junior year. When asked about why he's coming out early, this was Merling's response—

"I decided to come out early and I have a little daughter and my fiancée-she's about to graduate from the University of South Carolina, so this was a perfect time."

Merling is quick and explosive, and plays with great leverage. He plays with great instincts and can get off blocks effectively. He has enough strength to play inside on passing downs as well. Some knocks on Merling aside from his current health are that he has doesn't have a wide array of moves, and he relies too much on quickness to separate.

When asked if he was ready, Merling responded—

"I think I'm ready to play in the NFL. I had a pretty good college year. I played my freshman year and I started my sophomore and junior year. I learned a lot playing next to Gaines Adams and LeCharles Bentley, so I matured a lot on the football field and this was probably a good time for me to leave."

Merling is a 22-year old who is coming out after his junior season. Just a few days ago, the Jaguars were in a somewhat unenviable position of having a desperate need for a pass rusher, and there would likely be no players that fit the value of their 26th overall pick. With Merling now dropping, he could fit in well and be a solid value as well as fill the team's need.

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