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Houston Texans Select Illinois DE Whitney Mercilus 26th Overall

After making their first playoff appearance in franchise history, the Houston Texans immediately lost stud defensive end Mario Williams to the Buffalo Bills in free agency. The Texans hope they have found a replacement in Illinois junior Whitney Mercilus, who they made the 26th overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft Thursday night.

Mercilus was a bright spot in an otherwise sordid Illini season, winning the Ted Hendricks Award--awarded to the nation's top defensive end--and first-team All-America honors. The 6-foot-4, 260 pound Ohio native led the country in both sacks (16) and forced fumbles (9) in 2011. All of this happened after Mercilus lost the tip of his left index finger in a weight room accident last offseason.

Read more about the Texans at the Battle Red Blog. Also check out Mocking The Draft. Prospect profiles can be found at the National Football Post. Visit SB Nation's NFL Draft hub for more coverage.

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