The collective majority of Bills fans were ecstatic to see the Bills land Marcell Dareus with their top pick in the 2011 NFL draft this past spring. Buffalo's defensive players are presumably excited to add him as a teammate as well. It's difficult to believe however, that anyone is more excited about the addition than Bills defensive line coach Giff Smith.
After a season in which Buffalo's defensive line had their share of tough days and took their lumps adjusting to a 3-4 scheme, before interspersing some four-man front into their scheme, Smith could not be happier to add a premier talent like Dareus to the fold.
"It's one of those things going into the draft as a position coach you're hoping it falls your way," Smith told Buffalobills.com. "When Denver took Von Miller (second overall) I was so excited, but you still don't know until the trigger is pulled. When Buddy (Nix) made that call and it came up as Marcell Dareus you're already fooling with your depth chart. It really adds a lot to our defense and also to the defensive line."
Smith had his share of capable defenders last season, but two-thirds of the veteran starters on their three-man front were learning on the fly. Only Dwan Edwards was well versed in the 3-4 scheme at right defensive end.
Entering year two in the system with a significantly talented addition in Dareus significant improvement is expected.
"I think what you've got is a guy that's very well developed run and pass," said Smith. "He can obviously play in base defense and in nickel situations with the pass rush. He's got the whole gamut. He can do it all so we're going to put him out there."
It's widely anticipated that Dareus will be the starting left defensive end in Buffalo's 3-4 alignment come September with Kyle Williams and the veteran Edwards manning the other two spots up front. And much like Williams and Edwards, Bills defensive coordinator George Edwards sees some pretty advanced traits in Dareus' game.
"You can see he does a nice job with his hands," said Edwards. "He's able to shed blocks and make plays, which is what we saw him do his whole career when we looked at his body of work out of college."
What Dareus also brings to the table is an unmistakable swagger. Bills GM Buddy Nix mentioned Dareus' on field demeanor being different from what fans might see from him off the field. Smith is glad to have it knowing a confident attitude can be infectious across a defensive front.
"He's got a unique swagger to him because he's very respectful and very unassuming, but he's got that edge to him too," said Smith. "When it comes time he's going to perform. Kyle (Williams) has that edge and Dwan (Edwards) has it, but with Marcell it's a little bit different. He might be a little more vocal and obviously once you produce on the field it adds more to it, but he's going to bring an edge to our defense."
A shortened offseason leading up to the 2011 campaign certainly doesn't help any rookie coming in, but for a defensive lineman like Dareus the assignments won't be as much of an issue as getting acclimated to the players around him. That's why Buffalo's defensive staff still anticipates early success for the Alabama product despite the circumstances.
"We're expecting him to come in and help us," said Bills defensive coordinator George Edwards. "He plays with a lot of power and explosion. We're very anxious to get started with him."