2011 NFL Draft Player Profile: Nick Fairley
Nick Fairley has really made a name for himself in 2010. Not many people knew much about him prior to him finishing the regular season with 21 tackles for loss, including 11 sacks in his junior campaign.
Fairley was recruited out of high school as both an offensive guard and an offensive tackle. He played on the defensive line, but he was most effective on the offensive side of the ball.
After redshirting in 2007, he attended Junior College at Copiah-Lincoln Community College, in which he dominated in his redshirt freshman season. He made the move to defensive tackle immediately, and went out to obtain a scholarship with the Auburn Tigers.
Now Auburn has had a fantastic season, earning a national championship bid, and Fairley didn’t shy away from making a ton of plays in the title game. Fairley was a force in the entire game, often being held and still getting through to penetrate the line of scrimmage. He’s a special player who has the talent to have a very productive NFL Career.
Player Name: Nick Fairley
Position: Defensive Tackle
Arm: 34 3/4
40 Time: 4.82
Perhaps Fairley’s biggest strength is his non-stop motor. He doesn’t take many, if any, plays off. He’s a dominant penetrator in a 4-3 scheme who often takes up double teams. He shoots the gaps quickly, often disrupting the quarterback and getting in the backfield as soon as the hand off takes place. He gets a good punch off the line and holds his ground, immediately using his power to push offensive lineman back. He has long arms, and is a pure wrap up tackler. Fairley has fantastic instincts, and uses his quick feet to make a play on the ball immediately. He’s a natural bully on the defensive line.
Some may question his intangibles. He’s rumored to be somewhat of a “dirty” player, at times getting personal fouls and costing his team first downs. His strength is solid, but not amazing. He could afford to get stronger and use his arms a little bit more. His closing speed is decent, but not great, and while he gets in the backfield quick, he sometimes loses his footing, missing a tackle. He could use work in stunts, and getting around another defensive lineman, but has the quick feet to improve.
Fairley is almost surely a Top 5 pick, and could easily be the #1 overall pick for the Carolina Panthers. He’ll compete with A.J. Green and fellow defensive lineman for the top spot in the draft. While he could make the transition to the 5 technique in a 3-4, it wouldn’t highlight his skillset as a pure penetrating defensive tackle. He’s best off playing a 3 technique in a 4-3 defense. Look for all five of the top teams in the 2011 NFL Draft to take a hard look at him. Even if he has to make the transition to 3-4 like Denver, Buffalo, and Arizona all run, he will still be able to make a big time impact. I’d be extremely surprised if he fell out of the first five picks come April.
NFL Comparison: Kevin Williams