Alas, the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine has arrived.
Top tier athletes from around the nation are poked, prodded, and evaluated by scouts, coaches, and general managers—each hoping to get the inside scoop on the pool of prospects available to them for the 2011 NFL Draft.
The Buffalo Bills currently hold the No. 3 overall pick in the draft, and there is a plethora of directions they can choose to go with that selection.
General Manager, Buddy Nix, clearly stated throughout the week that he was looking for two defensive ends, inside linebackers, a cornerback, a quarterback, and a safety.
With the Bills utilizing a hybrid form of the 3-4 defense, featuring three down linemen and four linebackers, the depth at the defensive line position puts them in a good position to select a solid prospect.
The only question is which defensive lineman should the Bills take?
Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley has been ranked as the No. 1 overall draft prospect in most mock drafts recently, but as the Combine dawns upon us, rumors have surfaced of him slipping all the way to No. 6.
Marcell Dareus, a defensive tackle/end out of Alabama, has also been linked to the Buffalo Bills in many mock drafts, due to his experience in playing the 3-4.
Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers is another promising prospect, but I'm not sure that he would be a fit in the defense the Bills are looking to utilize.
Nick Fairley wasn't really on the radar until the second half of the 2010-2011 NCAA football season when he exploded, racking up 56 tackles and 12 sacks.
He was the recipient of the Lombardi Award, given to the most outstanding defensive lineman in the nation.
His draft stock flew through the roof after earning the BCS National Championship Most Valuable Player award after recording five tackles—three of which were a loss, a sack, and a forced fumble.
Finding a spot on the Bills' defensive line could be an issue for Fairley, despite his disruptive playmaking ability. Playing in a 4-3 for the entirety of his collegiate career, making the transition to a five-technique defensive end could prove difficult.
Fairley is stout against the run, even while double teamed, and his long arms and great hands control interior offensive linemen.
He is a lot better rushing the passer, as his athleticism and arsenal of swim moves allowed him to prey on SEC quarterbacks throughout the season.
He is a big, mean, nasty dude who has been labeled as a dirty player recently, due to his string of personal foul penalties, and in the National Football League, he's going to need to learn to keep his emotions inside, rather than wearing them on his sleeve.
Marcell Dareus has played on a 3-4 defensive line ever since he was a true freshman at Alabama.
Dareus was always a playmaker, but since former nose tackle, Terrence Cody, departed for the NFL last year, Dareus took control of the Crimson Tide defensive line.
His pass rushing skills are great, and would present major problems to opposing offensive lines—who also have to account for Bills nose tackle Kyle Williams. He has the size to play inside when the Bills use a four-man front as well.
Dareus always stays low; has incredible core strength that you look for in any defensive linemen; and has no problems sealing the edge to contain the run and collapse the pocket.
Like Fairley, he sheds blocks with ease, and is quite fast for a man that stands at 6'4" and weighs 306 pounds.
In his two seasons at Alabama, Dareus recorded 71 tackles; 20 of those for a loss, 11 sacks—while forcing a fumble, and hitting the quarterback 17 times.
Personally, I believe that Marcell Dareus would be the best option for the Buffalo Bills, despite Nick Fairley's ability.
Fairley definitely is a football player, but Dareus' flexibility will appeal to the Bills, who are looking for depth on the defensive line. Dareus has the experience of playing end in a 3-4, and could see the field instantly.
What do you think?