Whitney Mercilus did not attend the 2012 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.
Six years later, he is happy he decided to stay home instead.
Surrounded by family and close friends, Mercilus heard his name called on television when the Texans selected the Illinois outside linebacker with the 26th overall pick.
"I just went back home to Ohio and I just experienced it with close family, friends and old high school coaches and stuff like that," Mercilus said. "That was pretty cool, especially when my name got called late in the first round. Man, it was like a mosh pit and everybody like jumped on me so it was pretty cool. I enjoyed it, just being home, just being close with people who had been there from the start and that's what I loved about it."
Now in his seventh season with the Texans, Mercilus has played in 83 games with 63 starts. He also learned that his draft training did not him for what was in store for the start of NFL offseason workouts.
"You train for the Combine and that's not really football," Mercilus said. "That's just testing your limits, your body, expanding your bench press, your 40-time, things like that. You don't really gear your training towards football movements, especially by the time the draft comes. You come in for the OTAs and I wish somebody would have told me, 'Hey, make sure you are in football shape because the first day you come in, you're going to be tongue out like a dog for sure.' So I wish I would have known that."
Mercilus tied the Texans rookie record for sacks in a season (6.0) in 2012 and currently ranks third in franchise history with 38.5 sacks.
The 2018 NFL Draft takes place Thursday, April 26 through Saturday, April 28. Houston has eight picks in the draft: three in the third round, one in the fourth round, three in the sixth round and one in the seventh round.
Outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus' career as a Texan, and his college career at Illinois are shown here in photos.