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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Todd McShay Has Lions Taking Illinois DE Whitney Mercilus

ESPN football analyst Todd McShay released a mock draft Wednesday that projects the Detroit Lions taking Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus with the 23rd overall pick.

The 6-foot-4, 265-pound Mercilus led the nation in sacks last season with 16.0 and was one of just two players in the country who averaged more than a sack per game.

A recent SB Nation Mock Draft has the Lions taking North Alabama cornerback Janoris Jenkins. (Jenkins started his career at Florida but was dismissed, landing him at North Alabama.)

McShay, however, thinks otherwise:

The Lions put the franchise tag on DE Cliff Avril, and Kyle Vanden Bosch will be 34 this season, so now is the time to add an edge rusher to make sure their defensive line will remain a devastating force for years to come. Mercilus has quickness and a knack for big plays, but he is still developing and this would be a good situation for him.

As for the top of the draft: McShay projects Andrew Luck to go first overall to the Indianapolis Colts, and Robert Griffin III to go second to the Washington Redskins (a pick that previously belonged to St. Louis).

He has the Minnesota Vikings taking Matt Kalil, an offensive tackle from USC, at No. 3; the Cleveland Browns taking Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon at No. 4; and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers taking Alabama running back Trent Richardson at No. 5.

McShay's draft pegs Morris Claiborne, a cornerback from LSU, as the top defensive pick, going No. 6 to the Rams.

For more NFL news and draft updates, check out SB Nation's NFL home page.