Bills general manager Buddy Nix said hours before the draft that he couldn't see how they could screw up the third overall pick. Nix might have sold himself short as he and his personnel staff look like they hit a home run with arguably the most complete defensive lineman in the entire draft class, Alabama's Marcell Dareus.
At 6'3 ½" and 319 pounds, Dareus will provide instant impact to a run defense that ranked last in the NFL in 2010.
"We really liked this guy and everybody did," said Nix. "We had him really high from Day One. We really didn't think he'd be there, but we're excited about having him."
Bills head coach Chan Gailey said the intent initially is to use Dareus at defensive end, which is where he lined up in Alabama's pro style 3-4 defensive scheme.
"The great thing about Marcell is we saw him playing on the tight end, on the tackle, on the guard and on the center," said Gailey. "He gives you a lot of versatility. I can see him lining up in a lot of different spots for us as time goes on.
"I think he is a forceful player. You can't say that about every defensive player that comes along. There are a lot of people who make plays, but he is a force. He creates havoc on the offensive side and that was one of the things that we obviously liked about him."
"He has size, speed and athletic ability," said Nix. "And on top of all of that is how hard he plays. He's got a great motor, plays hard, tries to make a play every snap and we need that."
Buffalo gave up 200 yards rushing or more a team record tying eight times in 16 games last season. Dareus fully understands what he'll be asked to do right away.
"I accept it with open arms," said Dareus of being seen as a run stuffer. "They want to stop the run then I have to stop the run. I have to do everything in my power to make it happen."
Dareus went a long way in making that happen at Alabama. In the past two seasons he had 59 tackles including 19.5 for loss, but he also collapses the pocket. Dareus can get after the quarterback as evidenced his 11 sacks over the last two years, one of which came on Heisman trophy winner Cam Newton.
"How many 320-pounders have you seen do that," asked Nix smiling. "Keeping him in the pocket and then making a tackle."
"Sometimes people I think might have not given him enough credit as a pass rusher," said Gailey. "I think he can get on the edge of a guard. That's where he had most of his success as a pass rusher was between tackles. But he's a good guy coming off the outside edge as well."
An indication of his athleticism comes with his 4.93 40-time, which is rare for a 319-pound NFL prospect, but what Nix said the Bills saw as Dareus' greatest asset was his consistency. The only time the defensive lineman's production waned was when he played through a high ankle sprain that would've kept most players out of the lineup.
"The media uses the term 'safe pick,'" said Nix. "I don't think there's any such thing. But I think he's about as close as it gets because he's got the right character and that kind of thing."
Right after being selected in New York, Dareus joked that he was going to bring some warmth up to Buffalo, but it was clear he fully intends to be a significant contributor from the first day he steps on the field.
"(I'm) a hungry young man ready to make the transition and that wants to cause havoc in the league," said Dareus. "The fan base is crazy. I'm going to put a little light up under everybody and warm it up, up there."
Bills hold 2nd pick in round twoBuffalo sits in a good spot for the start of day two of the NFL draft on Friday, which begins at 6 pm. The Bills will pick second in round two right behind New England, which picks 33rd.
"The 34th pick to me is like a first-round pick," said Nix. "You're talking one or two guys, so we're excited about being with that 34th pick. We think we can get another starter."