However, what might have been the most impressive facet about his game this week was when he lined up as the nose in passing downs and was able to simply overwhelm Florida center Mike Pouncey on his bull rush like a rag doll and make his way into the backfield. Plus, the guy was still banged up with an ankle injury from a week ago and the way he is able to slip a block, recognize the second blocker and generate a strong punch to knock him off balance was really impressive. Dareus is the kind of guy who can play a number of spots in both a 3-4 and 4-3 defense, but he just seems like a potential blue-chip five-technique guy to me at the next level."
Pros: For a 3-4 defensive end Marcel Dareus is a unique player. The incoming junior, who stands at 6’4”, is expected by many to be one of the elite prospects in the 2011 draft. Dareus became a household name when he won Defensive MVP honors in the BCS Championship Game last season against Texas—Dareus not only knocked Colt McCoy out of the game with a devastating hit, he returned an interception for a touchdown. But that game is hardly the only reason he’s on scouts’ radar; he is no flash in the pan. What truly stands out about Dareus is that he has an incredible fluidity for a man his size. Watch the interception return against Texas and you can see what makes Dareus special. He is not clumsy in any way; every movement is deliberate, effortless, and displays excellent flexibility. This makes Dareus a true nightmare in space for a man his size, and as such you see him make a lot of plays in the offensive backfield (nine tackles for a loss). His 6.5 sacks in part-time duty, which led the SEC, were rather impressive for the sophomore defensive end. Dareus is a nightmare matchup for offensive linemen because he is so graceful and effortless in his movement that he is nearly impossible to mirror. Dareus also has the special ability to manipulate the size of his body. In other words, when he needs to shoot gaps he can make himself small, but when he needs to stack the line of scrimmage for his linebackers, he can play big. Dareus has already added more than 20 pounds since arriving in Tuscaloosa and is expected to tip the scales at over 300 pounds in 2010, with a frame that can easily support more weight. Dareus’ value is also enhanced by his versatility, as he has had success as a 3-4 end in Nick Saban’s scheme, with the potential to be a dominant three-technique defensive tackle in a 4-3 alignment. As a true freshman, the Alabama native even moved inside to nose tackle in passing situations. Dareus also shows sophistication in terms of hand placement, leverage, knee bend and situational awareness. The Alabama man has the look of a true three-down NFL defensive lineman, equally adept at disrupting running lanes and a quarterback’s timing.
Cons: After starting in just four contests and recording a solid 33 tackles last season, we need to see more production and consistency from Darius in 2010 if he wants to be an elite prospect. While Dareus has long arms and legs, his natural strength is not yet at the level where the underclassman is ready to take on NFL level offensive linemen and win on strength alone. Along with adding muscle weight it is also evident that some of the weight in Dareus’ midsection is sloppy. While he is an incredibly smooth athlete there are questions about Dareus’ burst off the line of scrimmage and speed. Working on his body should help alleviate those concerns, while at the same time make him stronger and quicker. If he ends up kicking inside to play defensive tackle the SEC product will need to add a little more bulk if he expects to be anything other than a penetrator at the NFL level.
Our View: Not the most heavily recruited prospect coming out of high school, Dareus burst on the scene as a sophomore and with the likes of Rolando McClain and Terrence “Mount” Cody moving on to the NFL, we expect the defensive lineman to be the lynchpin of Alabama’s front seven in 2010. A truly fantastic prospect, Dareus may end up becoming a victim of the expectations placed on him and the position he plays. While Dareus gets penetration in the Nick Saban system, a lot of his responsibility lies in occupying blockers so others can make plays—don’t expect him to post numbers comparable to edge pass rushers such as Robert Quinn (North Carolina) or Greg Romeus (Pittsburgh). If Dareus does not have the splash plays many are expecting his stock may drop in the outer circles, but NFL insiders will be able to read between the lines. Dareus is a defensive lineman whose strength is in short-area movement and playing in space. In fact, he is so smooth and flexible that in many ways he is reminiscent of Ndamukong Suh, but unlike the number two overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, Dareus lacks truly Herculean strength and still has to shed some of his baby fat. If Dareus can work his butt off in the weight room, sculpt his body and improve his burst while taking over as the focal point of the Crimson Tide defense, he has a chance to be a top 10 pick in next year’s draft. With several teams that run 3-4 defenses potentially picking near the top of the 2011 Draft, don’t be surprised if Dareus goes as high as number three, where former LSU Tiger Tyson Jackson went to Kansas City in the 2009 Draft."
Negatives: Shorter than ideal arms... Can give up on plays... Suspended first two games of this season for NCAA rules violation (attending agent's party)... Had just four games starting experience prior to this season... Would be best off at 285 lbs. playing as five-technique."
It has been more of the same for Dareus in 2010. Through eight games he leads the team in tackles for loss with eight and in sacks with 2.5, despite playing in just six of those eight contests (he was suspended for two games due to receiving improper benefits from agents). That should not affect his draft status at all; and it's a draft status that is sky-high right now. Dareus could be a Top 5 overall selection and anything less than a Top 10 pick would be a considerable surprise."
Despite his experience in Alabama's odd front, he could warrant more interest inside in a 4-3 defense with the up-the-field quickness, positional instincts and competitiveness to become a very effective, gap-shooting penetrator. He is excellent against the run and, while not afforded a lot of opportunity to play in gaps, could be very productive rushing the passer from the inside."
He can play in the 3.4 as an End or as a Tackle, but would probably be much more effective in a 4.3. Again, he could play either position, such is his tremendous blend of Athleticism and Power.
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