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Draft fallout: Will Mercilus be a star for the Texans?

253 draft picks have transformed the NFL in a matter of days. Around the League will examine the aftershocks by asking one post-draft burning question for all 32 teams.

Will Whitney Mercilus make Texans fans forget all about Mario Williams?

The Houston Texans had the league's second-ranked defense a season ago, but the team made a statement by using their first pick (26th overall) to grab Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus.

Mercilus has no small task in front of him, asked to fill the shoes of Mario Williams, who left for the Buffalo Bills in free agency after establishing himself as the greatest pass-rusher in Texans history.

Both Texans coach Gary Kubiak and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips have raved about Mercilus, contending that his playing style will fit right in with a young outside linebacker unit that includes Connor Barwin and Brooks Reed.

"He's like the guys we have, and that's why we really liked him," Phillips told the Texans' official site. "He's a smart player. He's athletic. He's tough, physical, but he's a self-starter, high-motor guy that plays with ability. You want those high-motor guys, but you want them to have that kind of ability. He's one of the top pass rushers in the draft. It's a great opportunity to get a guy like that at that point in the draft."

If Texans fans are expecting Mercilus to be an instant star, they could be in for a disappointment. A defensive end at Illinois, Houston plans to rotate him at outside linebacker with Barwin and Reed. Mercilus doesn't possess the dynamic talent Williams is blessed with, but he brings youth and explosion to a defense that was already among the league's best.

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