2011 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn

by Cory J. Bonini on March 8, 2011 @ 04:56:03 PDT

 


National Champion Auburn Tigers defensive tackle Nick Fairley has chosen to skip his senior season and turn pro. He enters the 2011 NFL Draft with a bright future ahead, but that's not to say Fairley doesn't come with baggage.

Fairley, 6-foot-4, 291 pounds, was a highly sought after prep prospect but didn't qualify academically at Auburn, so enrolled at Copiah-Lincoln Junior College in Wesson, Mass. After meeting the NCAA's requirements, Fairley was slow to contribute for the Tigers. He started only two games in 2009 before bursting onto the season a year later. 

Strengths

  • Nick Fairley, draft prospect
    A Fairley good prospect
    Explosive quickness and burst
  • Penetrates the backfield
  • Versatile athlete (played offensive lineman, tight end, defensive lineman and basketball in high school)
  • Identifies plays and locates the ball quickly
  • Uses his hands well
  • Long arms
  • Impressive swim move
  • Plus strength
  • Ultra-productive 2010 season (11.5 sacks, 24 tackles for loss)

Weaknesses

  • Work ethic, maturity and decision-making ability all questionable, at best
  • Thin limbs - can be out-powered against the run or by double-teams
  • Tends to stand instead of fire at the snap
  • One-year wonder?

Expected draft placement

Fairley has immense talent and almost equal downside because of his intangibles. He could shine in the NFL for a decade or more, but Fairley also has big-time bust potential. Albert Haynesworth might be the best comparison for Fairley, as both players are disruptive - on and off the field.

With enough talent and upside to be the first overall pick (Carolina Panthers), Fairley's negatives could be overlooked by the Denver Broncos (No. 2) if Carolina goes in another direction on draft day.

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About Cory J. Bonini

Cory is KFFL's General Manager. In late 2002, he joined the KFFL staff as a research analyst and has been involved in fantasy sports since 1996. A member of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, as well as Fantasy Sports Writers Association, Bonini has been featured in print, on radio and on scores of websites. Bonini co-hosted Big Lead Sports on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio from 2011 to 2012.

Bonini was recognized with the 2010 Best Article in Print Award from the FSWA and was a finalist for the same award in 2011. In '11, he finished first overall in the FSWA NFL experts challenge that featured 60 of the industry's best competitors.

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