Strengths: One of the most complete prospects heading into the 2011 draft, Dareus provides schematic versatility, elite physical attributes, refined technique, and exceptional intangibles. A 2 year starter and 3 year contributor at Alabama, Dareus began his college career playing mainly nose tackle on third down situations. It was this season in which Dareus developed a solid pass rush ability from the interior defensive line position, as he was counted upon to pressure the quarterback.
His sophomore season in 2009, Dareus really burst onto the national scene with 33 tackles, 6.5 sacks, 9 tackles for loss, and 7 quarterback hurries. Dareus showcased an ability to not only rush the quarterback, but also hold the point of attack effectively and anchor versus the run. Dareus' emergence as a dominating d-lineman helped propel the Alabama Crimson Tide to a BCS National Championship victory over Texas. In the game, Marcell Dareus knocked star quarterback Colt Mccoy out for the entirety of the game on the first drive, and went on to win defensive MVP honors for his dominating play. The most memorable moment of the game was Dareus' interception return for a touchdown that displayed a powerful stiff arm and a slick spin move.
In 2010, Dareus' junior year, Marcell maintained nearly identical numbers production wise with 33 tackles, 5 sacks, 11 tackles for loss, and 10 quarterback hurries. This comes despite being suspended for the first two games of the season, and dealing with a nagging high ankle sprain. Albeit the Crimson Tide did not win the National Championship as the year before, Marcell Dareus showed all the tools necessary to be successful at the NFL level.
For a 6'3 319 lbs man, Dareus has good explosion off the line of scrimmage and tremendous athleticism. A high intensity player, Dareus can get out in the open field and chase down ball carriers. Plays with a fighter mentality and has heavy hands at the point of attack. Powerful arms provide for an effective swim or rip move off the edge. Has variety of pass rush moves because of his arm and hand usage. Added with his low pad level and leg drive, the skill set of Marcell Dareus will intrigue talent evaluators looking for 3-4 DEs (1 gap and 2 gap), as well as 4-3 teams looking for a 3 technique.
His ability to bend on the edge, combined with his speed and explosiveness, makes Dareus an effective speed rusher as well. When placed in a wide 7 technique in Nick Saban's 3-4 defense, Dareus showed an impressive ability to disrupt the backfield. The short area explosiveness, quick feet, athleticism, and hand usage allow Dareus to beat his man easily and continuously. Placing Marcell Dareus into a 1 gap, 3-4 scheme, an NFL team will fully utilize his athletic and physical attributes. Dareus adds a pass rushing threat from the 5 tech position, and can kick inside on nickel or third down situations as well. Although he does not stunt effectively, Dareus is best matched up on his own (1 on 1), on the outside at DE or on the inside at DT.
As a 2-gap defensive end, Dareus has the ability to hold edge, read, and react to the play. His excellent hand placement helps him shed blocks consistently. Active hands and a strong anchor, afford Dareus time to read and react to the flow of the play. Stout at the point of attack, Dareus even showed a willingness to simply eat up blocks in order to free up other teammates. Rather than running himself out of plays, Dareus maintains gap discipline. Another subtle improvement from his sophomore to junior year, Dareus seemed to "grow up" in terms of football character. By that I mean that Dareus hardly took any plays off, played through injuries, and understood his role and the concepts of Nick Saban's intricate defensive scheme.
Dareus is finally, an impressive specimen at the 3 tech position in a 4-3 defense. With the formerly stated abilities of reading and reacting to flow, active and heavy hands, strong anchor and powerful arms, quick feet and athleticism, followed by short area burst and speed, Dareus makes a compelling case to be the most well rounded player at not only defensive line, but at any position in the 2011 draft. As a 3 technique, Dareus provides a formidable interior pass rushing foe, whose quickness is a matchup problem with guards and centers. He has the size and strength to hold his own inside, but also has the quickness and explosion to take it to a whole new level. Dareus experienced great success in high school likely as a 4-3 DT his senior season, racking up 110 tackles and 20 sacks, so it may not be too far fetched to see him most successful as a 4-3 3 tech. His skill set suggest the ability to kick inside and dominate, and his high school production backs up that claim.
However violent a player Dareus may be, he is characterized by those around him as a humble, nice guy. Marcell told Pro Football Talk at NBC, "I would describe myself as a nice guy." Nick Saban said on College Football Live on ESPN that as good a player as Dareus is, he's an even better person. Saban's solid resume of producing successful NFL players goes back to how he prepares them mentally on and off the field. Saban stresses the importance of how you need to carry yourself around your peers, but also teaches a complex NFL styled defensive scheme that truly develops young college players' football IQ and knowledge of the game. Dareus' growth on and off the field, as well as understanding of NFL schemes, makes for a smooth transition to the next level.
Weaknesses: Not many holes to Dareus' game, but there are a few concerns I will nitpick at. One, he has a tendency to disappear in games, and two, he lacks the in game stamina you would like out of a game changing defensive lineman.
A slight worry would be the involvement with an agent during the offseason following Alabama's national championship run, however I feel that Dareus has learned from the mistake and will be much more careful with who he trusts in the future.
Best fit: As stated earlier, I feel he is best suited in a 4-3 scheme as a movable 3 technique. This way you utilize all facets of Dareus' game.
The top 2 teams drafting will both be running 4-3 schemes in 2011 (if there is a season) and the Bills who are drafting third overall, will be running a 4-3/3-4 hybrid scheme. Dareus fits well with the Carolina Panthers, Denver Broncos, and Buffalo Bills who pick 1, 2, and 3; more importantly I would be hard pressed to see him fall out of the top 5. Best fit would be Carolina, who had the speed at defensive end, but lacked the girth inside last season.
X-Factor: How much of a factor will the character and work ethic issues surrounding Nick Fairley be? Fairley, who was much more dominant on tape than Dareus, has the NFL buzzing in a bady way after having missed team meetings, his flight to the NFL combine, and a dinner with the Miami Dolphins. Will a team still gamble early on Fairley and pass up on Dareus? Or will these concerns push Fairley down the board and move Dareus up to the top?
Where will he be drafted: Top 5
Where should he be drafted: Top 3; There are only 3 players I see with #1 overall pick grades- Patrick Peterson of LSU, A.J. Green of Georgia, and Marcell Dareus. Each 3 players would be great fits in Carolina.
NFL Comparison: Warren Sapp (retired), DT, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Oakland Raiders
Marcell Dareus highlights
Marcell Dareus highlights