While he was once firmly in contention to be the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft, Auburn tackle Nick Fairley has been dropping down draft boards over the past few weeks. So why has Fairley been dropping while another defensive tackle – Alabama’s Marcell Dareus – has rocketed past him?
The answer appears to be pretty simple, teams love his play on the field but they don’t like some of the decisions he has made off of it. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Fairley made a lot of bad decisions while at C0piah-Lincoln Community College in Mississippi, the school he attended for two years after he failed to qualify out of high school. On top of that, as a junior, Fairley was only productive for one season at the major college level.
Both Todd McShay and Mel Kiper have Fairley landing with the Tennessee Titans with the No. 8 pick in the first round. That seems like a perfect fit, especially considering the Titans hired Tracy Rocker this offseason as their new defensive line coach. Rocker was Fairley’s position coach at Auburn.
The 6’3, 291-pound Fairley is immensely talented. The problem comes when one considers his intangibles. Scouts Inc. rates his intangibles as “below average,” saying, “Reportedly questions about work ethic and character (need) to be examined further. 2007: Did not qualify academically and enrolled in a junior college.”
Then, under toughness/motor Scouts Inc. has this to say:
“Makes big plays in key situations in the game. But the biggest concerns with Fairley reaching his potential in the NFL are in this facet of his evaluation, specifically concerning his erratic emotions and effort. Can show great restraint when gets chop blocked or popped by offensive linemen jumping early, but there are other times when he clearly cannot control his emotions. Was flagged for multiple personal fouls in 2010 and could have been flagged for more. Effort in pursuit of the run is not as good as it is when pursuing the QB.”
That’s a pretty big indictment of his character and toughness. The fact that he’s still considered a lock for the top 10 of this year’s draft says even more about his raw talent.
Other than Cam Newton it would appear that Fairley is this year’s biggest boom or bust talent. His personality evaluation sounds almost exactly like that of Albert Haynesworth. In the right situation we could see Fairley being an absolute beast. In the wrong one? We don’t even want to think about it.