By Tim Graham
On the subject of breakout seasons, Buffalo Bills fans are most likely to think of rookie linebacker Kiko Alonso.
But as Buffalo News reporter Mark Gaughan wrote for today's paper, defensive tackle Marcell Dareus consistently has been showing elite skills so far.
The third overall pick of the 2011 draft was pretty good as a rookie but took a step backward last year while dealing with the death of a younger brother in a shooting.
Dareus is on pace to obliterate his stats from last year, when he finished with 26 tackles, five for losses and 5.5 sacks.
Through seven games, he has 34 tackles, three for losses and four sacks.
Analytics site ProFootballFocus.com further illustrates Dareus' emergence.
PFF, which tracks and tags every NFL play, credits Dareus with 21 run stops, already more than the 17 he had last year and in half the number of snaps. He has played 167 run snaps so far this year, compared to 350 last year.
Dareus is the only defensive tackle with a positive grade in all four of PFF's primary categories for the position (pass-rushing, run-stopping and coverage). Dareus ranks 16th overall among defensive tackles, 21st in pass-rushing, 10th in run-stopping and tied for first in coverage, although that's a negligible stat for interior linemen.
taggedKiko Alonso | Marcell Dareus