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AFC East's best: No. 23 Marcell Dareus

By Tim Graham

DareusMugA countdown of my top 25 AFC East players continues, one weekday at a time ...

The choice

As a rookie, Buffalo Bills defensive lineman Marcell Dareus led the team with 5.5 sacks. That also led the NFL for players who primarily played 3-4 nose tackle. Dareus started 10 games at nose tackle and five at defensive end.

The Bills are moving a 4-3 and will have some incredible talent around Dareus they didn't have last year. Pro Bowl defensive tackle Kyle Williams is back from injury. Free agents Mario Williams and Mark Anderson will set the edge.

That setup -- plus a year of NFL experience -- will make it tough for opponents to concentrate on stopping Dareus. credited him with 24 quarterback hurries, sixth in the league among all defensive tackles.

Fast fact

Dareus was named NFL defensive rookie of the week for his performance against the Washington Redskins. He notched 2.5 sacks, the most by a Bills rookie since Cornelius Bennett in 1987.

How acquired

Selected in the first round (third overall) of the 2011 draft.

Hint about No. 22

If not for injuries, he'd be considered a fantasy superstar.

Picks to date

23. Marcell Dareus, Bills defensive tackle
24. Antonio Cromartie, Jets cornerback
25. Eric Wood, Bills center

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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |