This post is part of a continuing series in which we break down 13 2011 NFL Draft prospects - our Baker's Dozen - that should interest the Buffalo Bills. Previous physical scouting reports: WR Julio Jones, DT Nick Fairley.
Alabama defensive lineman Marcell Dareus has just a hair more playing experience than the supposed one-year-wonder he's competing against for draft positioning, Nick Fairley. Why, then, don't we hear the same complaints about Dareus? Coming out of Nick Saban's pro-style 3-4 defense at Alabama, Dareus is one of the most polished prospects in this draft class - and as such, he's got a chance to be the No. 1 overall pick come April 28.
Defining Trait: Versatility. Dareus is a unique athlete in that he is pro-ready in terms of strength and bulk, and is packaged with unusual foot speed and hand technique for a prospect entering the league after his true junior season. He is heavy-handed and stout in the lower body, making him excellent against the run. He's also got good power and burst to be disruptive as a pass rusher. Dareus lined up as a 3-4 defensive end, as a 3-4 nose tackle, and even as a 4-3 defensive end at times at Alabama. That versatility, along with his advanced technique and overall polish, should make him an attractive option to all 32 NFL teams this April.
Pass Rush. Dareus has agile feet and quick hands to keep defenders out of him, and while he is sufficiently quick, power is his trademark as a pass rusher. Strong throughout his frame, Dareus can collapse a pocket simply by being quick off the snap, but it's his bull rush and polished (if limited) set of counter-moves that makes him an effective pass rusher. Is fluid changing directions, but his range is merely sufficient - so he'll be better rushing from inside, lined up against guards. Dareus does not have elite potential as a pass rusher, but he's certainly good enough where you can keep him on the field as an asset in passing situations.
Run Defend. Becoming more consistent in this area, and has dominant potential as a run defender - but he's not quite as polished as most lead you to believe. Can tend to get high at times, allowing him to be moved around easier than he should be. Earlier in his career, did not give as good an effort in run defend as he does now. That said, Dareus has excellent balance and great instincts and awareness, which keeps him in plays - and he pursues well, too. He is very disciplined in his gap assignments thanks to Saban - he won't freelance. He does his job. Very stout at the point of attack with great hands to easily shed single blocks, and to fight off double teams. Plays with excellent power, from his heavy hands to his anchor, and can capably defend the run in either a one- or two-gap system. Has sufficient range and good hustle, but may not be the elite edge defender that most make him out to be; NFL teams will be able to sweep to his side. This is not yet the strength of Dareus' game, but it soon will be.
College Production. Buried on a deep depth chart early in his career, Dareus saw very limited action in passing situations as a freshman, and started slow as a sophomore before coming on late in the 2009 season. Had a big game in the 2009 national championship game against Texas, which included an interception return for a score. Did not meet very lofty expectations as a junior, but had a very solid, very consistent season in which he set a career high in tackles for loss as teams looked to avoid his side of the line of scrimmage.
Marcell Dareus: College Statistics
|Marcell Dareus Totals
Athletic Traits. Dareus is an excellent natural athlete. Not only is he big and powerful - he really is NFL-ready from that standpoint - but he is nimble on his feet, understands leverage, has powerful, quick hands, is fluid moving down the line of scrimmage, and has good change-of-direction. He came into the Combine a bit heavier than expected and still put up a faster 10-yard split than Fairley, showing off his burst and underrated first step. His three-cone number is cause for concern if you're scouting him through the lens of the five technique, as you'd like your ends to be able to move around a bit quicker. I'm guessing that if Dareus ends up as a 3-4 end, teams will ask him to trim back down to the 300-pound range to try to get him moving around a touch better.
Marcell Dareus - 2011 Combine Results
Injury Issues. Fortunately, there are none for Dareus. He proved to be a dependable and durable defender during his last two years in Tuscaloosa.