With training camp around the corner, there are quite a few players on the team ready to make a leap in their progression as athletes in the National Football League. At BillsMafia.com, we picked 10 players that poised to breakout and produce at a high level.
Stay tuned throughout the next few weeks as we breakdown the 10 Buffalo Bills that are poised for breakout years in 2013!
The Buffalo Bills selected defensive tackle Marcell Dareus with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft. While he hasn’t played poorly by any means, he’s yet to live up to the hype that garnered his status as a top five pick.
In his first two seasons with the Bills, Dareus recorded 82 tackles, 14 of which for a loss and 11 sacks. (Note: ProFootballFocus and Advanced NFL Stats credit Dareus with 13 sacks) At 6’3” and 331 pounds, Dareus’ ability as a penetrating pass rusher has been vastly overlooked.
His +15.7 pass rushing grade courtesy of ProFootballFocus ranked Dareus eighth among 85 qualifying defensive tackles/nose tackles. However, his ability to consistently defend the run has been an issue, especially in the 2012 season.
Dareus admitted that his head wasn’t in the game after his 19-year old brother was shot and killed in a triple-homicide/robbery during the 2012 season.
In an interview with John Kryk, Dareus explained the situation.
“It’s been pretty hard to play football, period – altogether. This if the first place I’ve been to since all this happened. I haven’t been home, I haven’t been on a plane (outside of football trips). I’ve just been scared.”
“I didn’t leave my house for months. I just got to the point where I’m able to leave it now. For the things to go the way they went, it just hit me in a whole other way. I’ve been looking over my shoulder and it just got me spooked.”
For a 23-year old being away from his family after a tragic occurance he went through, it’s understandable and forgiveable that Dareus didn’t have football as his No. 1 priority last year. Following that interview with the Toronto Sun, Dareus’ game began to take off, leading many to believe that he’ll come back even better this upcoming season.
Dareus is an extremely athletic individual considering his 330+ pound frame, and his versatility allows him to play a variety of positions along the defensive line. He can play both the nose tackle and three-technique defensive tackle in 4-3 looks, and can play all three spots in a three-man front.
The Bills drafted Dareus when they were transitioning to a 3-4 defense, and he played fairly well at the five-technique defensive end position as a rookie. Last season, he and Kyle Williams rotated between the three and one technique defensive tackle positions.
While it’s unclear whether Dareus will primarily play defensive end or nose tackle in Coach Pettine’s “hybrid” defense, it’s likely that he’ll be moved around in order to create mismatches for opposing offensive lines.
With Dareus entering his third professional season in the National Football League; the year players should emerge as complete players, it’s pretty easy to get optimistic about him heading into the 2013 season.
Marcell Dareus Projected 2013 Stat Line: 48 TKL, 7 sacks, 3 FF, 4 PD