On Thursday night former University of Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus and former Illini wide receiver A.J. Jenkins were both taken in the first round of the 2012 NFL draft.
Mercilus was picked by the Houston Texans with the 26th pick as a possible replacement for Mario Williams who signed with the Buffalo Bills in the offseason, and Jenkins was picked by the 49ers with the 30th pick and will be one of Alex Smith’s go to guys in the passing game for seasons to come.
It did not surprise many that these great players were taken early in the draft. Both were standouts in college, Mercilus led the nation in sacks and fumbles forced in the 2011 and Jenkins led the Big Ten in receptions. These players are two of the last five who have been drafted in the first round since 2008, The others being Vontae Davis, Rashard Mendenhall, and Corey Liuget.
The NFL Draft will continue on Friday night with the second and third rounds.