AFC West: Marcell Daceus

Marcell Dareus impresses at Indy

February, 28, 2011
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Earlier Monday, we looked at the possible choices for Denver at No. 2.

Monday at the NFL combine in Indianapolis, several defensive lineman had the chance to begin their push for a top spot.

Todd McShay of Scouts Inc. said on ESPN’s “SportsCenter” Monday that he was very impressed by the speed of the defensive linemen. He said it was the fastest defensive line group he’s ever seen.

Alabama’s Marcell Dareus was particularly impressive, McShay said. He may set himself up to be the No. 1 overall pick by Carolina. Denver will likely seriously consider Dareus at No. 2. Dareus ran a 4.92 40-yard dash. That is a stunning time considering Dareus weighs 318. McShay said Dareus likely fared better than Auburn’s Nick Fairley in the eyes of scouts. Fairley was measured at 6-foot-3, instead of 6-foot-4 as he has been listed. Fairley did run a 4.82 40, so he will still remain a top prospect. Denver could choose between Dareus and Fairley.

Saturday, McShay told me he thought North Carolina's Robert Quinn could get in the conversation for the No. 2 pick with a strong combine. The defensive end missed the entire 2010 season because he accepted gifts from an agent. Quinn, who weighs 265 pounds, ran a 4.77 40. He reportedly looked good, not great. So, without great combine numbers and 2010 film, it could be difficult for Quinn to bypass so many good prospects and move up all the way to No. 2.

This situation will be fluid until the April 28 draft, but Monday’s events are worth considering.

Here's looking at No. 2

February, 28, 2011
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INDIANAPOLIS -- The Denver Broncos have the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL draft. The Broncos were was last in the NFL in total defense and points allowed in 2010 and are expected to take a defensive player with the pick.

Denver has been examining the top defensive players at the NFL combine for the past several days. Here is a look at the players who could be considered with the choice:

Da'Quan Bowers, defensive end, Clemson

Known for: He is a pure pass-rusher and led the nation with 15.5 sacks in 2010.

Why he should be the pick: He would give Denver a dominant, classic defensive end and would form a good pass-rushing pair with Elvis Dumervil.

Why he shouldn’t be the pick: Bowers is not considered a sure thing. He had only one productive year of college football.

Deciding factor: Bowers, along with Nick Fairley and quarterbacks Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert, could be taken by Carolina with the No. 1 pick. If he gets past Carolina, Bowers could be the choice in Denver. I think the Broncos will seriously consider taking Bowers, who reminds many of Julius Peppers. Peppers was the first pick taken by new Denver coach John Fox in Carolina.

Quotable: “I think I can bring a lot of good things to the team. You can get a pass-rushing defensive end, a humble guy, a guy with great character, a guy who is going to work hard, a guy that is going to go about things the right way and a guy who is willing to compete with anyone anywhere.” -- Bowers

Marcell Dareus, defensive tackle, Alabama

Known for: He is a stout 4-3 defensive tackle who is coming from a winning program.

[+] EnlargeMarcell Dareus
Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesMarcell Dareus is expected to be a top-10 pick in April's NFL draft.
Why he should be the pick: Some scouts feel like he is more of sure thing than Fairley. He seems like he will be a productive player for 10-12 years.

Why he shouldn’t be the pick: He may not be the most spectacular player available and could potentially slip to the 5-6 range.

Deciding factor: If Denver decides to take a defensive tackle, it will come down to Dareus or Fairley. So, he must grade out higher on Denver’s board than Fairley.

Quotable: “I look at it like, if you go back in the history of watching football, before the game was started, it started up front. Some people were scared and backed up off the ball, but the real bulls stayed up front and played the game." -- Dareus

Nick Fairley, defensive tackle, Auburn

Known for: He was a dominant force for a national championship winner.

Why he should be the pick: Fairley has a chance to be the best player in the draft and would be an immediate impact player.

Why he shouldn’t be the pick: There are questions about Fairley’s ability to transition to the NFL and he may have the riskiest character of all the potential picks.

Deciding factor: If Denver falls in love with Fairley, he’ll be the pick. I think he’ll be one of the top players on Denver’s board. There’s a chance Denver will be too intrigued with his ability if he gets past Carolina.

Quotable: “Fairley is really a true three-technique and he is a disrupting guy nonstop throughout the game. He beats linemen all day, every game.” -- Broncos general manager Brian Xanders

Von Miller, linebacker, Texas A&M

Known for: He has the most potential of any player on the board and is a natural pass-rusher. His stock has been rising lately.

Why he should be the pick: He could possibly be a perennial All-Pro who could become the face of the franchise.

Why he shouldn’t be the pick: He might be available a few spots lower and he may not be the highest value pick.

Deciding factor: If Miller -- who owned the Senior Bowl -- blows away scouts at the combine and his pro day, he may be too tempting to pass up.

Quotable: “First and foremost, I’m going to be a great teammate. I’m a team guy. That’s how I play football. That’s how we were able to win the games that we won at Texas A&M. We didn’t have all the talent in the world, but we had a great team. We had great chemistry in the locker room. I’ll be a rookie, whatever those guys want me to do, I’ll be happy to do it. Just find my way, find my role. Whatever it takes to get on the field, that’s what I’ll do.” -- Miller

Patrick Peterson, cornerback, LSU

[+] EnlargePatrick Peterson
Icon SMIWill Denver forsake its needs on the defensive line and draft Patrick Peterson to bolster the secondary?
Known for: The big, strong, fast Peterson is considered one of the best cornerback prospects in years. He could be the next Champ Bailey.

Why he should be the pick: Peterson and Bailey, who just signed a four-year contract extension, would be one of the best cornerback tandems in the NFL right away.

Why he shouldn’t be the pick: Denver has greater needs on the defensive line. Taking Peterson wouldn’t help Denver’s most pressing issue.

Deciding factor: I think it would take a lot for Denver to take Peterson because of the reality of the team’s needs. The only way Peterson is the pick is if Denver decides he is far and away the best player on the board.

Quotable: “He is a great athlete and not only as a [defensive] player, but as a returner. He is special as a returner. He is a guy that can do a lot of different things for you. Athletically, he is as good as anybody in the draft. He can run and he has good size for a corner -- he is 205, 210 pounds. He has good size and is a guy that can make some big plays. I think especially at the cornerback position, you like those guys that can make those plays, because those are game-changers.” -- Broncos vice president John Elway

Robert Quinn, defensive end, North Carolina

Known for: He could be the best player on the board, but he missed the entire 2010 season because he accepted gifts from an agent.

Why he should be the pick: He may be the highest value pick. In five years, he could be dominant.

Why he shouldn’t be the pick: He is only 265 pounds and missed valuable playing time in 2010.

Deciding factor: It’s all in Quinn’s hands. If Quinn has an unbelievable combine and pro day, the Broncos may have no choice but to take him. Still, that may be a long shot.

Quotable: “I feel like I've got a never-ending motor. I feel like I'm the fastest guy on the field and I try not to let nobody's hands get on me. A weakness, a 6 technique within the tight end, sometimes my eyes get to going back and forward and [I] take a bad step that may hurt me. I try to do little things to make sure I take straight steps every time.” -- Quinn

Evening AFC West notes

February, 26, 2011
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The way North Carolina defensive tackle Marvin Austin sees it, he should be a player Denver should consider with the No. 2 overall pick.

Austin missed the 2010 season for accepting gifts from an agent. He said he thinks he is a better prospect than Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley and Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus. Yet, those two players did play in 2010 and Austin doesn’t have much of a chance to be taken ahead of them.

The Broncos don’t have a visit set up yet with free agent safety O.J. Atogwe, but one could be in the making soon.

Here is another impending free agent for Denver to consider: Atlanta linebacker Stephen Nicholas. He seems to be a perfect fit for John Fox’s new defense.

Could Casey Matthews -- younger brother of Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews -- end up in San Diego?

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