Saturday, February 26, 2011

Marcell Dareus, Da'Quan Bowers Battling for Top Defensive Lineman Honors

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INDIANAPOLIS -- Alabama's Marcell Dareus (photo above) is battling with Clemson's Da'Quan Bowers (photo below right) and Auburn's Nick Fairley for the title of best defensive lineman in this draft class. He likes to compare his game to that of former Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Oakland Raiders defensive tackle Warren Sapp, who has gone on record as labeling Dareus the best three-technique lineman in the draft.

"Watching Warren Sapp made me want to play football," said Dareus, who at 6-foot-3 and 319 pounds has the ideal build for either tackle or end. "I really got good at it when (the Bucs) won the Super Bowl (after the 2002 season). I was in middle school and I really looked up to him as a person and a player and I like the fact that Warren Sapp thinks that highly of me and recognizes me as the best three-technique."

In a moment of levity, when Dareus was asked to describe himself as a player he smiled and said without hesitation, "I would describe myself as a nice guy." He was quick to point out that he always helps up every player he tackles and he likes to have fun on the field.

The fact that he grew up as the sixth of seven children in a single-family home after his father passed away when he was young is something Dareus attributes to his humility. He is the second youngest and learned early on about the importance of hard work. He also showed respect to Fairley and said he holds nothing against him but he did admit he feels he is the safest pick at the position because he can play in both a 3-4 and a 4-3.

Bowers joins Dareus and Fairley as the consensus top three defensive linemen in this draft class, while Oregon inside linebacker Casey Matthews is considered one of the top prospects at his position. Both players commanded a crowd in the afternoon during the anticipation leading up to the Cam Newton press conference and handled it well.

Bowers (6-3, 280) is excited to do everything at Lucas Oil Stadium to show how well rounded he is as a defensive linemen and in the individual interviews with the teams he intends to prove he has no character issues. With the need for quality pass rushers an important one for most of the teams around the league, Bowers feels he fits that mold.

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