- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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INDIANAPOLIS -- Quick hits from the third day of the NFL combine:
1. Easy to see why Pats have been linked to Mercilus. Illinois defensive end/outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus has been connected to the Patriots in some mock drafts, and purely based on body type and interview skills, it's easy to see why. Mercilus (6-3, 260) already looks like an outside linebacker for a 3-4 defense like the Patriots and he was impressive in his news conference. One area where a player like Mercilus figures to get "dinged" in the scouting process is that he has one year at top production (16 sacks and 9 forced fumbles last season), putting him in the "one-year wonder" category. Mercilus acknowledged it's a negative label, but said "16 is 16" when it comes to his sacks and that he was still learning the game before his breakout season. He enters the draft after his junior campaign and when it comes to disruptive pass-rushers, he is near the top of the list this year. His rising stock was reflected in how he initially was seated at an interview table today before combine organizers moved him to an interview podium because of media interest.
2. Cox gets support from Patriots' Love. Like Mercilus, Mississippi State defensive lineman Fletcher Cox is another player who already has the prototypical NFL body type. He is 6-foot-4 and weighed 298 pounds here and also made a favorable impression in his news conference. He had been communicating with Patriots defensive lineman Kyle Love, his old Mississippi State teammate, earlier in the day. "I just got done texting Kyle. He asked me when my workout was and I told him Monday. He told me he would be watching and wished me good luck," Cox relayed, adding that Love taught him a lot when they played together. "I was a freshman and he was a senior; he showed me the ropes and told me once he left that I was the next thing coming through."
3. UConn's Reyes touts his versatility. UConn defensive lineman Kendall Reyes, who is from Nashua, N.H., seemed to enjoy his news conference. When one reporter asked him a few questions about whether he was a Patriots fan and could envision himself playing for New England given his roots, he responded, "You can't get me with that one." Reyes, who stressed the message that he'd be happy with any of the NFL's 32 teams, measured 6-foot-4 and weighed in at 299 pounds. He touted his versatility as one of his strengths, while also lauding his UConn experience. "It's a great program. It's prepared me very well," he said. "It's a very blue-collar type of program, we work hard there, that's what we do. Mentally, I feel ready. Anything that will come by my way, I feel prepared."
4. Everyone loves Romeo. Chiefs head coach Romeo Crennel held the final pro-based news conference of the day, and then a large crowd of reporters followed him outside the media center to continue the discussion. Many of the reporters were from Cleveland, where Crennel had previously served as head coach. At the end of the media chat, one reporter joked that all the female reporters at the combine were gathered around waiting for their hug. Crennel seems to be well-liked among reporters, which is probably a result of him being viewed as a good person who has worked hard to make it to the top of his profession.