Weight: 319 lbs.
Great Fit For: Panthers, Broncos, Bengals
The 2011 NFL Draft is widely considered an excellent draft for teams in need of help solidifying their defensive line. When it comes to evaluating this incoming group of pass rushers, Marcell Dareus is considered the cream of the crop. His superior athleticism, speed, and versatility should ensure that he will be the first defensive lineman selected on April 28th.
Dareus was a standout pass rusher for three seasons at Alabama. He played nose tackle as a freshman before moving to defensive end and helping lead the Crimson Tide to the 2010 BCS National Championship. His junior year was delayed by an NCAA mandated two game suspension for receiving improper benefits, but his play during the 2010 season was good enough for him to declare early for the 2011 NFL Draft.
At the NFL Combine Dareus put on an impressive display and solidified his spot as a top five pick by running a 4.92 second 40 yard dash, which was the fastest time for any player listed over 300 lbs. NFL Network’s Mike Mayock called Dareus his “favorite player in the country this year”.
Scheme versatility is another advantage Dareus can bring to any team. He could play anywhere on the defensive line. His strength and ability to overpower blockers could force opposing lines to constantly assign a double team to him if he played as a defensive tackle in a 4-3. His speed around the edge could also see him be an excellent fit as a 4-3 defensive end or even as a 5-technique.
Current NFL comparisons have been no less impressive. Dareus has been favorably compared to 2010 rookie sensation Ndamukong Suh, Richard Seymour, Darnell Dockett, and former #2 overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft, Julius Peppers.
Most Scouts and draft experts don’t see a lot of risk in spending an early 2011 NFL Draft selection on Dareus. Some of the limited concerns have been about his relative lack of experience. He started only 15 games in college. A small concern for others was the suspension at the beginning of last year.
Marcell Dareus appears to have all the attributes that NFL teams are looking for in a cornerstone defensive player. He is considered an elite defensive lineman who is pro ready, scheme proof, and with a very low ceiling. He is thought to be about as close to a “can’t miss” player as there is in this year’s draft. The only question remaining now seems to be which John Fox coached team will select him…the former one or current one?