After being a virtual non-factor in his first full season at Auburn, defensive tackle Nick Fairley burst onto the scene in 2010 and had one of the best individual performances we have seen at the collegiate level by a defensive tackle in a long time, and that includes the production of one Ndamukong Suh. Fairley isn’t as physically gifted as Suh, but he provided a similar impact for the National Champion Auburn Tigers, and helped shut down one of the most potent offensive attacks in the country on the game’s biggest stage.
Nick Fairley is one of the top prospects available in this year’s draft, but is he squeaky clean? No prospect is, but Fairley seems to carry a bit more baggage than others.
NFL Team Visits/Private Workouts
- Buffalo Bills
- Carolina Panthers
- Cincinnati Bengals
- Cleveland Browns
- Denver Broncos
- San Francisco 49ers
- Tennessee Titans
- Washington Redskins
6’5″ 298 4.87
As you can see, every top ten team besides Arizona and Dallas has scheduled a workout for Fairley, and you can bet that if he falls out of the top ten, there will be plenty of teams willing to take him. Every NFL team attended the Auburn pro day and watched Fairley move through drills, so you know that every team will be looking at him on draft day if he is available.
What Nick Fairley does better than probably any defensive tackle in this draft is penetrate the line of scrimmage on a consistent basis, as is evidenced by his absolutely huge junior season for the Tigers. Fairley isn’t a guy who is going to hold down the line of scrimmage–he is there to get in the backfield and make plays. He has the athleticism of a defensive end, and the movement skills of one as well, but he’s a load to block on the interior and will likely command a double team right away in the NFL.
Fairley has a happy-go-lucky type of attitude, and he’s got the capability to be an absolute force when he wants to be. He seems to take everything in stride and focuses on one play at a time rather than plotting his next move, which is a deficiency for plenty of defensive tackles. By that I mean Fairley isn’t worried about over-running a play on first down and letting it get him out of his groove–he knows only one speed.
Here is one of Fairley’s best games of the 2010 season against LSU:
Fairley has grown a reputation for being a dirty player and for taking plays off. I don’t see either of those things in his 2010 games, save for one dirty hit on the Georgia quarterback, but then again, I didn’t get to see every Auburn game, and there is a reason he has grown that reputation. As far as taking plays off and having a reputation for being dirty, I think that’s kind of oxymoronic. A guy who takes plays off wouldn’t typically be the same guy that hits a quarterback after the play is over, and a guy who takes plays off doesn’t lead the nation in tackles for loss. Just doesn’t happen.
What I do have concerns about with Fairley are his general immaturity (or reported cases) and the fact that he could be a one year wonder. Still, Fairley being a one year wonder is amplified by the fact that he had one phenomenal season compared to three fairly mediocre seasons, which included a stint at a lower level college.
Here is some video footage of Fairley’s antics against Georgia. This is really the biggest case of his immaturity on video that we have at our disposal.
Fairley was not able to qualify academically at Auburn after being one of the most sought after recruits in high school.
Fairley has taken a lot of heat this offseason, and maybe rightfully so. He could be lazy, he could take plays off, and he could have a poor work ethic–these are not things we know for sure. We will have to trust the judgment of the GM’s and coaches of our favorite teams to make the right call on Fairley, who could go first overall or slip out of the top ten entirely.
Projection: Fairley will be a top eight pick in the coming NFL Draft.