Scouting Report: I have never seen a team with two players who've garnered so much attention as the Auburn Tigers' Nick Fairley and Cam Newton. At the start of the year, Fairley was a relative unknown. He had been in Junior College in 2008 and only got two starts in 2009. But this year it only took a couple of suplexes for him to become national news. Some people believe he's the best player in the entire draft. I am not one of them. It's almost certain that Fairley will be a disruptive 3 technique type of lineman. He's got an explosive first step and is in the backfield in a hurry. He's got that club/swim move down to a Tee and blows up offensive linemen. Physically I'd like him a little heavier, but his speed and quickness is elite and he plays with the force of a guy much bigger anyway. He does a nice job of breaking down the play and getting a jump on things. He's strong in pursuit and is a very good tackler.
Draft Status: As I said some pundits say he's the best in the draft. While I don't agree, I do believe that in a draft dominated by defensive players, Fairley is still a top 5 pick for me. Could Carolina pull the trigger on him? If they think they are getting the next Ndamukong Suh, you have to. But he's not that guy. Nonetheless, he's a lock to be a top ten pick.
Final Analysis: There is much more good news about Fairley than there is bad news that's for sure. I don't have to give you a lot of technical jargon to understand he's a disruptive force in the middle of the defense and plays with a nasty attitude you love to see from an NFL defender. But there is a downside. Fairley tries too hard at times to make every play. In college when you don't have superstars behind you, it's ok to freestyle. But in the NFL, Fairley is going to have to understand what his role is on a given play. I can see him losing his assignment and trying to make a play that isn't his to make, and in the NFL that will leave his linebackers exposed to big offensive linemen. He's going to have to learn to play in a more disciplined way. And I really don't see Fairley as a 8+ sack guy.
Reminds me of: Richard Seymour, DT Oakland Raiders. There are a lot of similarities to their games. I think Fairley could slide outside in a 3-4 and play DE, but I think like we have seen with Seymour, his best work is done inside. It's easy to compare Fairley to Warren Sapp, but Sapp was such a smart heady player who didn't leave his linebackers exposed. That is a key flaw in Fairley's game at this point.
Red Flags: None
Scouting Report written by Curt Popejoy