When the Buffalo Bills finally—and incredibly—landed free-agent pass-rusher Mario Williams this offseason, Bills fans thanked their lucky stars.
It was a long, drawn-out saga that never fully rid itself of potentially evil trickery—a nightmarish ending where Williams would shun the Bills for a big-market team.
But in the end, Mario chose Buffalo.
Fans freaked out. The front office and the coaches expressed their optimism. And players gushed about Super Mario’s enormous addition to the defense, both literally and figuratively.
But perhaps no player will benefit as much from Williams’ presence than second-year defensive tackle Marcell Dareus.
It’s easy to forget that Dareus is only 22 years old (he won’t be 23 until November). At 6’3” and 340 pounds, he’s proved he can hang with the rest of the big boys at football’s highest level. He finished his rookie season in the NFL with productive numbers and well-deserved recognition.
Serving as a rookie cornerstone to a defensive line in transition last year, Dareus recorded 43 tackles in 2011 and even led the team with 5.5 sacks.
And he did all that damage without a healthy Kyle Williams.
Essentially, Dareus put up Pro Bowl-like numbers not only as a rookie, but also as the focal point of the Bills’ defensive line for most of the season. Teams game-planned for him. They were paying attention.
How many sacks will Marcell Dareus record in 2012?
Imagine what Dareus is going to do with Mario Williams exploding off the edge.
Williams’ presence at defensive end will bring a noticeable change to the entire defense next season. He routinely requires double-teams, which consequently takes pressure off the interior linemen and enables them to push the pocket.
During his time in Houston, Williams recorded 4.5 sacks or more in each of his six seasons in the league—he had five sacks in five games last year before succumbing to injury.
With 53 career sacks and still just 27 years old, Williams is clearly carving out quite the career for himself.
If he continues to produce the way he's capable of, he'll play a big part in helping Marcell Dareus rise to superstardom.
Dareus is a powerful, versatile defensive lineman who has already proven he can be effective without someone taking attention away from him. He is only going to get better and better, especially considering he'll have a dominant tackle beside him now that Pro Bowler Kyle Williams is back to 100 percent.
In the 4-3, he'll be able to showcase his skills. Sandwiched between the two All-Pro Williams team, Dareus is ready to unleash the beast and become what B/R's AFC East Lead Blogger Erik Frenz calls "the Freddy Krueger of defensive tackles."
Dareus' ability to rush the passer from the interior is only going to be highlighted with a potent edge rush in the Bills' new 4-3—headlined by Super Mario.
As a result, there's no reason to believe the second-year Dareus won't improve on his terrific rookie campaign as he sets out to help the Bills make the postseason on a regular basis moving forward.