The Panthers DT Dilemma: Fairley or Dareus?

via media.al.comMarcell Dareus on the podium at the scouting combine

Unless Panthers GM Marty Hurney suddenly changes his drafting philosophy the Panthers will select one of the top rated defensive linemen in the draft. My guess is the Panthers will use their #1 pick on a DT unless they trade the pick away to another team who wants Cam Newton (Cincinnati?). As nice as it is to dream that I still have a hard time seeing it happen.

So if you decided you wanted to take a DT who do you take at #1? Let's hear from some of the pundits from both sides after today's combine before I give you my unprofessional opinion.  

First for Fairley:

Combine notes: breaking down the DL | National Football Post
• I will admit being slightly turned off when I first saw the overall physical make-up of Auburn DL Nick Fairley and his leaner lower half. However, watching him change directions, sink his hips and bend into and out of his breaks was nothing short of striking. Plus, the big guy posted a 40 in the low 4.8 range at nearly 300 pounds and displayed some real natural power on his punch during drills. If I had to pick number one overall, I am leaning toward Fairley as that guy.

Then against Fairley, sort of:

Fairley offers more risk than reward - NFL - Yahoo! Sports
Summary: An explosive, finesse three-technique, Fairley could make your draft or break your heart. Showed he could be a dominating force for a national championship team, took over games and could be unblockable in the interior of a "40" front if he stays motivated and uses good technique. However, he will require a very nuanced, demanding positional coach and might need to be limited to 40 snaps per game to maximize his talent. The more highly he is drafted, the greater the likelihood that he will bust, as a big pay day easily could sap his motivation. Compares to Saints 2003 sixth-overall pick Johnathan Sullivan (a bust) and could fizzle out of the league as fast as he arrives if he enters a non-challenging, unstructured environment. Has boom-or-bust potential.

I respect what Mike Mayock usually says but I just have to say I disagree and I'll tell you...after the jump...

 

Mayock:

Top defensive linemen put on a show at NFL's combine, possibly shuffling the 2011 draft board | cleveland.com
Dareus helped himself more than Fairley, according to NFL Network's Mike Mayock and ESPN's Todd McShay. McShay had the Browns taking Dareus in his pre-combine mock draft but now thinks he could go in the first or second selection. Mayock, who had Dareus ranked ahead of Fairley, confirmed that belief. What convinced Mayock was Dareus, at 6-3 and 319 pounds, ran a faster 10-yard split in his 40-yard dash than Fairley, who's 6-3, 291. Dareus ran an unofficial 4.93 in the 40, with a split of 1.66. Fairley posted a 4.87, 1.76. "All it does is reinforce to me that if I need a defensive tackle, [Dareus] is my first tackle off the board," said Mayock on the NFL Network. "Because at that position, you're looking for that initial get-off, that initial burst off the line of scrimmage. You're not looking for a guy that can run the 40. You're looking for a guy that can be quick in a 10, and the change of direction, the ability to bend his knees. [In drills] you can see the foot quickness and the change of direction, the explosiveness."

Now some giving props to Dareus:

NFL.com news: Alabama's Dareus making case to be first DT taken in draft
Marcell Dareus, Alabama, DT: He made a strong impression on coaches and scouts with his workout. He reported in tremendous shape (6-foot-3, 319 pounds) and moved better than anticipated in drills. His speed, quickness and body control are exceptional for a bigger player. Given his skill set and intangibles (work ethic, leadership and football intelligence), Dareus is building a strong case to be the top defensive tackle.

Now here's a Bill's Beat Writer making my case for me:

NFL Combine 2011: Nick Fairley or Marcell Dareus, Who Fits for Buffalo Bills? | Bleacher Report
Finding a spot on the Bills' defensive line could be an issue for Fairley, despite his disruptive playmaking ability. Playing in a 4-3 for the entirety of his collegiate career, making the transition to a five-technique defensive end could prove difficult. Fairley is stout against the run, even while double teamed, and his long arms and great hands control interior offensive linemen. He is a lot better rushing the passer, as his athleticism and arsenal of swim moves allowed him to prey on SEC quarterbacks throughout the season.

Finally, for those using the 'he only has one good year' as a knock:

NFL Scouting Combine: Marcell Dareus and Nick Fairley cannot escape comparison | al.com
"Every year there's a lot of players that you say they only had one good year ... now sometimes it's because of the situation, sometimes it's because of the people in front of them," Denver Broncos general manager Brian Xanders said. "Marcell Dareus, he had three good players in front of him last year, he was playing well, but he was a one-year starter. Fairley was a one-year starter. But there's been success stories."

So both players have only one good year on their resume at the Div. 1 level.I think all of the references make good points.

Yet my reason for still favoring Fairley at the moment when compared to Dareus is I see them as two different type DTs. The obvious reason is Fairley played in a 4-3 and Dareus a 3-4 and I think both players still translate to those familiar defenses. I see Dareus as a good under guard, a guy that can hold the point of attack but he just didn't have the production Fairley did. Maybe it was the scheme but you the stats don't lie.

Fairley on the other hand is the penetrator, the guy who gets off the ball quick and disrupts the offense. He either makes a play or he doesn't but the offense must account for him every play.I'll be the first to say I'm no scout but I just can't deny the importance of 24 tackles for loss and the total domination he put on display against Oregon. I watched it and I was impressed. He had similar games against LSU and Alabama by the way.

So if it is to be a DT I think its Fairley. Since I just don't see Hurney going for a QB at #1, whether its Newton or Gabbert, I think the only remaining wild card now is DE Da'Quan Bowers. We will have to wait to hear about he Pro Day before we can finally narrow this thing down...in my most humble opinion that it.

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