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Question of the Day
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) - Shortly after being drafted by the Buffalo Bills on Thursday night, Marcell Dareus showed off his defensive skills by happily enveloping NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in a giant bear-hug on the Radio City Music Hall stage.
The Bills are now counting on the Alabama defensive lineman to show how adept he is in wrapping up opponents in similar fashion on an even bigger platform next season.
With a big hole to fill on what’s been a porous defense, the Bills wasted little time in plugging it by selecting Dareus with the No. 3 pick in the draft.
“I’ll accept that (challenge) with open arms,” Dareus said during a telephone conference call. “I’ll do everything in my power to make that happen.”
Listed at 6-foot-3, 308 pounds, he’s a versatile lineman who can play either on the end or tackle, and showed an ability of pressuring the quarterback as well as stopping the run. Dareus was the defensive MVP in helping the Crimson Tide defeat Texas in the 2010 national championship game.
“He is a force to be reckoned with,” coach Chan Gailey said. “There’s a lot of people who make plays, but he is a force. He creates havoc on the offensive side.”
That’s exactly what the Bills were looking for in the draft to address their top priority: a leaky defense that finished last against the run last season, and had difficulty generating a pass rush.
Though Buffalo considered the possibility of drafting a quarterback with its top pick, general manager Buddy Nix said Dareus filled a much bigger need.
“You guys always use the words ‘Safe pick,’” Nix said, referring to reporters. “I don’t know if there’s any such thing. But I think (Dareus) is about as close at it gets, because he’s got the right character.”
Nix credited Dareus for being a consistent producer in playing against elite SEC opponents, and for particularly coming up big in important games.
Dareus finished with 11 sacks and 20 quarterback pressures in 33 career games, including 15 starts. He was also part of a defense that finished in the top 10 in the nation against the run in each of its past two season.
His most memorable performance came in the national championship game, in which his hit knocked Texas quarterback Colt McCoy out of the game in the first quarter. Dareus then had an interception return for a touchdown.
He joins a Bills defense that took much of the blame for the team’s 4-12 finish. The unit particularly struggled against the run. Buffalo allowed 200 yards rushing eight times last year, and 2,714 overall _ the second-highest total in team history. The 425 points allowed was also second worst.
The Bills have also struggled generating a pass rush. They had 27 sacks last season, and have averaged 27.25 sacks over the past four seasons. The No. 3 selection was the team’s highest since selecting defensive end Bruce Smith first overall in 1985.
Getting drafted ended an emotionally draining year for Dareus. His mother, Michelle Luckey, died in May. And he traveled to New York for the draft, while his home state was bombarded by a series of deadly storms.
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