Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus wasn't ever especially likely to make big noise as a rookie like Cincinnati Bengals receiver A.J. Green. Dareus plays a position (defensive tackle) that takes time to learn. Furthermore, many of his duties in Buffalo last year had to do with occupying blockers. That doesn't garner much attention, even though he recorded a respectable 5.5 sacks.
After a slow start, Dareus proved that he's going to be a keeper. ProFootballFocus ranked Dareus the No. 12 defensive tackle in the entire league last year. His best four games came in Weeks 6, 8, 14 and 16. He excelled as a pass rusher, ranking fifth according to ProFootballFocus' pass-rush metrics. Watching Dareus on tape, his combination of size, power and agility is remarkable. There's a reason NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock ranked him as the best player in last year's draft.
Everything this offseason points to a monster season in 2012 for Dareus:
• He will get a full offseason to work on his game and a season of experience, during which he learned how to be a pro.
• The Bills changed defensive schemes this offseason, and there will be more four-man fronts. Dareus won't have to occupy blockers as much this year.
Defenses are often going to have to single-block Dareus. After watching him toward the end of 2011, he is not a player you want to single-block.