One of the most intriguing battles that will play out over the next two months leading up to the 2011 NFL draft is Auburn DT Nick Fairley vs. Alabama DT Marcell Dareus. Two weeks ago conventional wisdom had Fairley getting picked ahead of Dareus. That thought process has been changing over the last couple of weeks as some now say Dareus is ahead of Fairley.
If their performance in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis this week means anything, Fairley is still ahead. The Auburn DT put up times of 4.86 and 4.82 in the 40-yard dash on Monday while Dareus posted slightly slower times of 4.94 and 4.92. Both these times come from National Football Post and are unofficial.
40 times for a defensive tackle are, in one way, pointless because your defensive tackle will rarely, if ever, have to run 40 yards in a straight line. But it does help speak to the overall athleticism of each player. Their times are close enough where it doesn't clearly put one ahead of the other at this point.
Another top defensive tackle, North Carolina's Marvin Austin, posted times of 4.8 and 4.86. Miami DT Allen Bailey ran 4.77 and 4.76 40-yard dash times and Iowa's Christian Ballard had 4.7 and 4.75. Another Iowa DE, Adrian Clayborn, put in times of 4.81 and 4.82 while Cal DE Cam Jordan, a fast-riser this week, ran it in 4.71 and 4.74 seconds. Purdue DE Ryan Kerrigan ran it in 4.67 and 4.73 seconds while Illinois DT Corey Liuget posted times of 4.95 and 5.06 seconds.
As with the rest of the players in the NFL, defensive linemen are not only getting bigger but faster as well. The athleticism for some of these guys, considering their size, is incredible. We'll see how that translates to the pro game.