Nick Fairley: 2011 NFL Draft Prospects
Defensive Tackle Nick Fairley
(H: 6’5″ – W: 298 – College: Auburn)
Fairley is a homegrown talent for Auburn having grown up in Mobile, Alabama. He began his high school career in football by playing both sides of the ball. He was ranked the 28th offensive guard in the country and 15th best prospect in Alabama by Rivals. After attending Copiah-Lincoln Junior College, Fairley permanently moved to the defensive tackle position and shined.
After redshirting in 2007, he only played seven games in 2008 but made the most of his time. Fairley piled up 63 tackles, nine tackles for loss and seven sacks. For a defensive tackle, those are extremely productive numbers.
Rivals rated him a three-star prospect in that 2009 class. Fairley then signed his letter of intent to Auburn and played in all 13 games, mostly as a backup. But 2010 was his big year that has catapulted him into the NFL.
Fairley won the 2010 Rotary Lombardi Award, which is given to the best college football lineman or linebacker. Notable former winners are Warren Sapp, Orlando Pace, Julius Peppers, Terrell Suggs, A.J. Hawk and last year’s winner Ndamukong Suh.
In 13 games this year, Fairley accumulated 60 total tackles, 11.5 sacks, 24 tackles for loss, 21 QB hurries and two forced fumbles. Those are huge numbers for a defensive tackle, a position where the primary role is to occupy blockers and fill running lanes.
There are rumblings and concerns about potential character issues, although none of them are critical. Fairley was often flagged for over-aggressive play. He was flagged for roughing the passer, late hits and other personal fouls. It seems unlikely a NFL team would take issue with these as they can be corrected via coaching.
Now 23 years old, Fairley declared for the 2011 NFL Draft after his redshirt junior year. He is being considered by the Carolina Panthers with their No. 1 pick and the organization has even begun an interview process to better know him.
Strengths: Versatile defensive line prospect. Can play almost anywhere in either a 4-3 or 3-4 defense. Good athlete with appropriate size. Long arms, disruptive and often unblockable. Creates a great push into the backfield using good leverage and strength. Excellent swim move. Good knee bend and body control in traffic and while being blocked. Plays with a mean streak. Sheds blocks well, always fighting to get penetration. Strong against the run and takes good pursuit angles. Quick to the point of attack.
Weaknesses: Junior college prospect. Only played one year at the FBS level before 2010. Needs to improve stamina and maintain energy throughout a full game. Rumored to be a dirty player. Called for too many personal fouls in college. Needs to get a better handle of emotions in-game. Tends to play up or down depending upon the quality of opponent. Was sometimes overpowered by bigger, stronger linemen. Needs to continue to add bulk and strength. Will be looked at by 3-4 defenses, but is not suited for a 5-technique. Not particularly fast and only has inadequate lateral agility.
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Fantasy Sports Writer Matt De Lima: fantasy-info.com