It's obvious that the Buffalo Bills' No. 3 overall pick, Marcell Dareus, has missed significant time and reps due to the NFL lockout, but there is no doubt that the former Alabama Crimson Tide standout defensive lineman will make an impact in the 2011 NFL season.
The Bills were lucky to have the "do-it-all" defensive lineman fall into their laps in the 2011 NFL Draft, as they needed a solid five-technique to improve their league-worst run defense.
In 2010, the Bills allowed roughly 170 yards per game on the ground and gave up over 200 rushing yards an astonishing eight times.
The Bills roster is now filled with youth and depth, and adding a player of Marcell Dareus' ability can only help the production of the defense.
Last year, the Bills opted to transition to a 3-4 defensive front, but only one of their three-down linemen was familiar with his position—Dwan Edwards.
Kyle Williams, who played defensive tackle his entire career, slid to nose tackle and, though he is a bit undersized, had an unbelievable year.
Alongside him, Marcus Stroud slid outside to the five-technique and had an unimpressive season, but he was released at the end of the year.
Marcell Dareus has the size, strength, and versatility to play all three positions on the defensive line in the 3-4 front, and he can slide inside to defensive tackle in passing downs. He was the cornerstone of an Alabama defense that won a National Championship just two years ago, and he managed to make 66 tackles and sack the quarterback 10.5 times in his two years as a starter.
Putting Dareus alongside Kyle Williams will present a tough matchup issue for opposing offensive line coaches, as one of them has to be double-teamed.
And while offensive lineman are worrying about containing Williams and Dareus, they must also focus on which linebacker will be gunning for their quarterback.
Most likely that man will be Shawne Merriman—a 26-year-old former perennial Pro Bowler, who has made just 44 tackles and four sacks while appearing in 17 games the past three years, after racking up 198 tackles and 29.5 sacks in his first three seasons in the league.
Having Dareus containing offensive tackles while using the Bills' base 3-4 defense will definitely benefit the blitzers coming off of the edge, and Dareus's lining up next to Williams in the 4-3 front will make it a lot easier for inside linebackers Paul Posluszny and rookie Kelvin Sheppard to stuff the middle.
The Bills could've gone in another direction with their No. 3 overall pick, but Dareus's versatility, strength, and ability to improve the entire defensive group simply was too much to pass on.