Will Bills First-Round Pick Marcell Dareus Have Much of an Impact in 2011?

When the Bills took 21-year-old defensive tackle Marcell Dareus out of Alabama third overall at the recent NFL draft, a lot of people actually thought they got the best player available. That might be true, considering Dareus should be able to step into the lineup on opening day and have an immediate positive impact on the team.

He might not be able to improve on the pass rush, but playing alongside steady nose tackle Kyle Williams should definitely improve the defense against the run, where they were horrible last season. The Bills weren’t too bad offensively, but they couldn’t keep the opposition from running all over them. He’s also quite versatile as he can play defensive tackle, nose tackle, and defensive end, and ran the 40 at the Combine in 4.92 seconds.

With the 6-foot-3, 320lb. mountain of a man in the lineup, the Bills can place him in the middle of their defensive line. Dareus carries his weight well and there won’t be a lot of linemen who’ll be able to stop him from throwing an arm around their running backs. If he plays as well as expected the Bills shouldn’t have to count on their offense as much nest season.

Dareus seems to be the real deal with his size, speed, and strength. He handles double teams well, collapses the pocket, can shed blockers, and reacts well to the snap with his quick first step. He’s pretty agile for a big man and can move quite well laterally. He can occupy blockers and disrupt the run while maintaining his discipline. There are a few weaknesses to his game, such as lack of starting experience, his arm length, and the tendency to be too upright. He was also suspended for accepting benefits from an agent.

Dareus learned his craft in the 3-4 defense at Alabama under head coach Nick Saban. It’s likely that he’ll start at in Buffalo’s 3-4 defense at defensive end, but could be moved from there in the subpackages. He may play defensive end in the 3-4 on first and second downs and move inside with Kyle Williams in nickel.

There are some who feel Dareus’ tough upbringing may cause him to lose interest and motivation once he starts getting paid good money. His father died when the youngster was six years old and his mother is in a wheelchair. If he can deal with the sudden fame and fortune then his stamina and conditioning will be critical in the NFL and his success will depend on it.

He’s big, agile, talented, fast and durable. These are the attributes that should see Dareus having a big impact on the Bills this season and he could possibly have the most impact of any player in this year’s draft. If he plays up to his potential, Bills’ fans might figure it was worth having such a lousy season in 2010.

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