Dareus: draft's gentle giant

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:34 PM ET

By its very nature, a draft is full of unknowns.

Long on potential but extremely shy on certainty.

Next Thursday's NFL draft is no different but there may be one exception high up on most draft boards.

His name is Marcell Dareus and while the thought of drafting him may not have the NFL crazies frothing at the mouth, he is the one guy most GMs and scouts will tell you -- with some degree of confidence -- will help their football team.

As it stands now, the Alabama defensive tackle should be off the board no later than the fifth pick and quite likely as early as second with Denver.

Roll the dice with a Cam Newton but draft Dareus and your defensive line can go from decent to very good or good to outstanding in a short period of time.

Like most players being talked about in the upper echelons of any draft, Dareus has the physical tools to excel at his position.

He's 6-foot-3, weighs in at an intimidating 319 and has a taste for the kind of hard work on a defensive line that often goes unnoticed.

He may not be the guy pulling down the quarterback behind the line of scrimmage all the time but his efforts have played a huge role in making sure that same quarterback put himself in a position to get sacked.

Bills head coach Chan Gailey admits he's not really sure what the definition of a safe pick is, or even if there really is such an animal, when it comes to the NFL draft.

"I've never known one that was a truly safe pick," Gailey said, "because you never really know what a guy is going to do in that particular situation. With all that unfolds around him, how is he going to handle it? But I think what people are saying by (calling Dareus a safe pick) is they feel good about Marcell and his future and how he will handle all the hubbub that goes with being a top draft choice."

But what Dareus does give you that many others in this draft might not is the kind of versatility where if he can't help you in one area he may be able to help you in another.

"I can play multiple positions," Dareus said during his podium visit with the league's media at the recent NFL Combine. "I'm good at what I do. My coaches prepared us well. Coach Bo Davis, my D-line coach at Alabama (since moved on to Texas), he prepared me well for the league and talked to me after practice. Coach (Nick) Saban prepared us going through practice and training and treatment and learning to take care of your body."

Having played in Nick Saban's pro-style defence at Alabama is another huge advantage for Dareus.

" Playing with coach Saban and playing a pro style defence, I'm ready for the league," Dareus said. "We did all the plays the NFL teams would do and did a lot of things that came with it, a lot of stunts, a lot of things we had to learn, a lot of coverages and calls. I'm ready for all that, the training, all the way around."

So while most college players graduating to the NFL worry about terminology and schemes, Dareus is already comfortable with all of that.

"The biggest challenge is going to be like it was in college, managing my time and knowing what's next and what I have to look forward to," he said.

On top of all that, Dareus has extra motivation to do well with six brothers and sisters spread throughout the U.S. depending on him to make life a little easier for them.

"That's one of the reasons I wanted to come out, to really help my family," he said. "We're all struggling in certain ways. It will be a big benefit to help my brothers and sisters to the point we can do something in life."

And if along the way he makes life easier on an NFL team's plans for the draft, that's just an added benefit. Dareus after all is far more gentle giant than untamed beast on the field.

"I'm a real nice guy," Dareus says when asked to describe himself. "Everybody I tackle I pretty much help 'em up. I'm coming after you the next play but I'm a nice guy at most times."


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