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Buffalo Big Board: Alabama Defensive Tackle Marcell Dareus

When you look at Alabama DT prospect Marcell Dareus across the board, there appear to be very few questions marks.  If you’re looking for a beast to insert in the middle of your defense with a high skill set, great motor and work ethic, then it would be foolish to pass up on him. 

In 33 career games at Alabama, Dareus tallied 70 tackles and 11 sacks, under the guidence of one of the best coaches in the country, Nick Saban.  Twice Dareus has been a key figure in the Crimson Tides’ top five defenses.  He became a household name in the 2009 National Championship game for his knockout hit on former Texas Longhorns now current Cleveland Browns quarterback Colt McCoy.  At 6’3, 319 pounds he’s an ieal fit as a defensive tackle at the next level, but for a player his size he has great speed and quickness.  He may not have the quickest first step off the ball like other defensive lineman prospects in this draft, but once Dareus gets himself moving, he excels at running downhill, whether it’s stalking an opposing running back or quarterback in the backfield.

What gives Dareus an advantage is his versatility.  Playing in Alabama’s 3-4 defensive scheme, Dareus is equipped to translate easily to any team in the NFL that employs the 3-4 scheme.  He may be most comfortable lining up at nose tackle, however, Dareus has shown the consistency getting to the quarterback and generating pressure off the end.   For such a young player, he has the ability to read plays fast and react quicker.  Once he’s able to indentify the play (pass or run), Dareus has the ability to get off his blocks and hunt down the football.  When he isn’t able to shed his blocks, he’s still disruptive enough on the interior when he can maintain his position on the line and force the ballcarrier to search for running room away from him.  Another added weapon in Dareus’ arsenal is his experience playing against double teams.  He drew tremendous amount of attention and double teams from opposing offensive lineman in college, and that’s not likely to change on Sundays.

From a pass rushing perspective, his agility and good lateral movement.  He has an understanding of how to use his hands and use his leverage as advantages in pass rushing situations.  When he’s deterred from getting to the pocket, Dareus is powerful enough to get a good push up the field and collapse the pocket around the quarterback.  His pass rushing moves are limited right now and sometimes he can be too predictable, and in the NFL it won’t take opposing offensive linemen very long to figure out his weaknesses so he’ll need to be more creative when it comes his pass rushing moves and getting past the linemen.   Dareus might not be translate into an elite pass rusher at the next level, but he’s good enough where you can leave him on the field on third down passing situations.

Dareus has two other qualities you cannot teach or measure at the combine:  durability and toughness.  He spent the majority of 2010 dealing with a high-ankle sprain, but didn’t miss any playing time.  In 2010, Alabama’s national title season, in the championship game Dareus returned an interception for a touchdown while playing through the pain of ankle, thigh and knee injuries.  To say that Dareus has not had the easiest of a home life would be an understatement.  His father passed away when he just six years old.  His mother, now confined to a wheelchair, had to raise seven children on her own.   For a period of time, he stayed with his high school football coach and a sponsor family during his time in college.  But through all the hardship and struggles, here stands Dareus on the verge of a top five pick in the draft.  He knows it’s up to him to help provide for his siblings and take care of his mother.  And when you’re faced with that type of burden, you’re committed to doing anything and everything possible to make it in the NFL.  That’s something no combine drill or 40-yard dash can measure.

Dareus has a relentless motor, is physically gifted to play in either 4-3 or 3-4 defensive scheme in the NFL.  It seems the bigger the magnitude of the game, the better Dareus performs which is something NFL teams will surely take into consideration.  His combination of size, strength and smarts translate extremely well at the next level making him a possibility as a 5 technique defensive lineman (think of a Richard Seymour type player).   He has the strength, atletecism and discipline to be this type of a player, thanks in large part to Saban’s NFL defensive style of play at Alabama.

 It’s likely Dareus will hear his name called very early on draft night, and if he’s available at No.3, I would love to hear the Bills call his name.

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