During Phillip Merling's conference call with the Miami media, he said that he's "going to a good team that's competitive." He also said of Bill Parcells: "I like that type of coach."
So either Phillip Merling thinks he's going to the Dallas Cowboys, and that this is 2006, or he just hasn't been paying attention.
All dickishness aside, a few words about our new defensive end: Phillip Merling may end up being the steal of the 2008 NFL Draft. Coming into the draft, he was called a mid-to-late first round pick. Some had him going to the Redskins, Buccaneers or 49ers in the first round. Merling's draft stock fell when he suffered a sports hernia injury, which in turn led to a craptastic combine. But he more than made up for it during his solid pro day workout on April 24th. Wait? Sports hernia? His testicles hurt? Maybe he did watch the 2007 Dolphins after all.
Even at 6-4, 275 lbs (and counting) Merling has great speed. He plays with an unrelenting motor and is powerful enough to shed multiple blockers. He's described as relentless and is very polished and well-coached. His technique is solid and he is extremely versatile. Merling's bulk, strength, long arms and overall quickness makes him a perfect fit for Miami's 3-4 defense. He can play both defensive end and outside linebacker. Merling was teammates at Clemson with DE Gaines Adams, the 4th overall pick of the 2007 Draft. While Merling is not as explosive as Adams, he is more versatile.
It's pretty clear the Dolphins had Merling in mind at 32 the whole time. It's very likely that once Florida's Derrick Harvey went to the Jaguars at 8th overall, Merling was next on Parcells' draft board. So thanks to a sports hernia and to teams who don't suck as much as we do, so they can't afford to take a guy who may not be ready by the start of the season, we were able to nab Merling with the 32nd pick. Merling may not be the next Jason Taylor in terms of being a game-changing player. But he doesn't need to be. He's a guy that will win Fins fans over with his relentless, never say die, don't stop beating the Bejesus out of the opposing running back until he hears the whistle, type of player. Versatile, powerful, all heart.
“I’m a physical player and the best thing about me is that I’m not limited to one thing,” said Merling. “I don’t think I’m an extreme pass rusher or an extreme run stopper. I think I’m balanced and I can do both.”
Phillip Merling is going to show us all what a steal he was. That is, once his abs, groin and balls stop hurting. But then it is so on.