Marcell Dareus is among the best players available in the 2011 NFL Draft. A two-year star for the Crimson Tide, Dareus was a key piece of the team's 2009 NCAA Championship defense.
As a pure defensive tackle Dareus projects best as a three-technique tackle who can split the "B" gap (guard/tackle) and generate pressure on the quarterback. As a three-tech tackle he has the ideal body type and burst to make plays in the backfield. Dareus also projects very well as a 3-4 defensive end, the position he played in Nick Saban's 3-4 defense at Alabama.
Dareus projects best as a 3-4 defensive end in the NFL based on his body type, speed and ability to anchor the edge and rush the passer from a five-technique position. There are many teams who run a 4-3 defense looking at Dareus, as he looks like a classic three-technique gap splitting tackle when viewed as a one-gap player (much like Warren Sapp). Dareus has only started 15 games during his time at Alabama; 4 years as a sophomore in 2009 and the final 11 games of the 2010 season after missing the first two games due to a suspension for receiving improper benefits from an agent. In this respect Dareus is very raw, but his upside is unlimited.One negative you will see when watching Dareus is that he will take plays off. This is not a high-motor player unless motivated by anger or "big play" potential. Dareus will loaf, but he is easily coachable and responsive.
Dareus will not receive high marks from us in terms of motor, consistency or even production. As a part-time starter in 2009 he generated 33 tackles and six sacks. Starting 11 games in 2010 he put up almost mirror numbers. Dareus was often double-teamed, but he had more snaps and more opportunities to make plays in his junior season. Dareus is also known for his lack of effort at times. He looks to become uninterested and lazy during "slow" points in the game. We will note that Dareus' play down the stretch during 2010 was much better than earlier in his career. His play against Michigan State was down right dominating. More than any defensive player in this 2011 NFL Draft class, Dareus has the ability to take over games. Whether he does or not is up to him.
Dareus is faster than you would expect, but he does not show the burst off the line of scrimmage to cross the tackle before he gets in to his body. Shows good quickness to get in to his gap and pressure the pocket. Very good use of his hands. Dareus does a great job punching and using his hands to disengage from blocks. Good late burst assists in tackling. Has a nice swim move that he combos with an inside rip. Advanced in terms of rush moves and shedding blocks. Good lateral agility and quickness to make plays as a tackler. While he is a quick player, Dareus is not a speed rusher and would not do well in one-on-one situations on the edge. He is a player who needs a clear lane to speed rush, but excels as a power rusher.
Dareus has shown the ability to set the edge, push the offensive tackle in to the backfield and make plays off the edge here. As a prospect Dareus grades out very high and should be among the first five to ten picks off the board in the first round.