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Nick Fairley

| | College: Auburn
Copyright NFLDraftScout.com, distributed by The Sports Xchange

Fairley knew he wanted to play for Auburn as a two-way player coming out of Williamson High school in Mobile, Ala., but it would take a two-year stint at Copiah-Lincoln (Miss.) Junior College before he could step on the field with the Tigers.

Fairley dominated as expected on the JUCO level, racking up 63 tackles, including nine for loss, and seven sacks in just seven games. He admits the transition to facing bigger, stronger and faster offensive linemen in the SEC took an adjustment period.

Fairley produced a modest 28 tackles with 3.5 tackles for loss in 2009, and struggled to make many impact plays. He credits his defensive line coach Tracy Rocker, a former Tigers defensive tackle who is also in the College Football Hall of Fame, with helping to improve his technique and preparing Fairley for his breakout junior season.

"Just by him playing in the trenches and knowing what it takes to play down there. So everything that came out of Coach Rocker's mouth my two years with him I took it to hear and tried to use it to my game," Fairley said at the scouting combine.

And that "game" exploded during Auburn's run to the national title last season. Fairley set a single-season school record with 21.0 tackles for loss to go along with 10.5 sacks.

Fairley displays rare speed and quickness for a player of his size, and that has many scouts viewing him as a versatile athlete who could potentially dominate inside or outside. What makes NFL teams nervous is Fairley has only one standout season under his belt, but takes issue with anyone questioning his passion for the game.

"I want to show them the one-hit wonder is not in me," Fairley said. "I play the game the way it should be played. I hit a light switch when I hit the field and it doesn't turn off until after I leave.

"It was like that since I was little. I've been playing football since I was eight years old, ever since then my motor is always running."

Fairley put a lot of stock in his workout in Indianapolis in an attempt to separate himself from a deep class of defensive linemen. He worked out in Houston to drop about 10 pounds, and turned in a blistering 4.84-second 40-yard dash. He also knows his team interviews carried a lot of weight, and Fairley's goal was to convince them that he can model his game after his idol, Hall of Fame defensive end Reggie White.

"I think he played the game the way it should be played and that's why I try to play my game like him," Fairley said.


Pass rush: Explosive initial burst off the snap. Good flexibility and balance to "get skinny" and penetrate gaps. Uses his hands well to slap away blockers' attempts to get their hands on him. Possesses a rare combination of long arms and quick feet, helping him avoid cut blocks. Good swim move. Locates the ball quickly and has the lateral agility to redirect. Good short-area closing burst. Good effort in pursuit. Surprising speed for a man of his size.

Run defense: Relies on his quickness to penetrate gaps and make plays behind the line of scrimmage more than his strength to hold up at the point of attack. Long, relatively thin limbed for the position and can be knocked off the ball due to his lack of an ideal anchor. Good flexibility to twist through double-teams. Locates the ball quickly and pursues well laterally.

Explosion: Quick burst to penetrate gaps. Can shock his opponent with his quickness, strong initial punch and quick hands to disengage. Has an explosive burst to close when he sees a playmaking opportunity and can make the eye-popping collision without needing much space to gather momentum.

Strength: Good, but not elite strength, especially in his lower body. Has a tendency to come up at the snap and can be pushed back because of it. Possesses very good natural strength, however, including in his core as he can twist through double teams. Very good hand strength to rip through blocks. Good strength for the pull-down and trip-up tackle.

Tackling: Possesses a good closing burst and brings his hips to supply the big hit. Good strength for the drag tackle. Willing to lay out and has good hand-eye coordination to trip up the ballcarrier running away from him.

Intangibles: Former high school basketball player who shows surprisingly quick feet. An ascending talent, but is nonetheless labeled as a player with some true bust potential, as there are concerns about his work ethic. Carries a little bit of extra weight around his middle and is more "country" strong than weight-room defined. Has developed a reputation as a dirty player; repeatedly flagged in 2010 for late hits and there have been instances when he has speared ballcarriers with his helmet, banged into their lower legs purposely and pushed off downed players to lift himself up. One of nine siblings.

--Rob Rang

Career Notes

Set AU single-season record of 21.0 TFL's … 4th in AU single-season records with 10.5 in 2010 and is half a sack shy of tying school record.

2010 Season

Recorded 60 tackles, including a school-record 24.0 tackles for loss, with 11.5 quarterback sacks. Consensus All-American in 2010 and was named the Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year by the Associated Press. In Auburn's BCS National Championship Game victory over Oregon, Fairley had five tackles including three for loss and a sack while garnering defensive MVP honors.

2009 Season

Appeared in 13 games with two starts … Totaled 28 tackles with 3.5 TFLs … Started first career game in season opener vs. Louisiana Tech … Recorded five tackles with half a TFL, one fumble recovery and two QBH … Had half a TFL (minus 3 yards), two QB hurries and three total tackles vs. West Virginia … Recorded one tackle vs. Ball State … Recorded first blocked PAT of career in win over Tennessee … Block came on UT's first score near the end of the first half and gave Auburn a 13-6 edge … Posted three tackles, with one solo, vs. Arkansas … Registered a TFL (minus 2 yards) as only tackle vs. Kentucky … Had one tackle vs. LSU … Picked up one assisted tackle vs. Ole Miss … Logged one tackle vs. Furman … Had strong showing vs. Georgia, recording first career sack, 1.0 for minus 14 yards, and finished with two total tackles … Against Alabama, had half a sack (minus 1 yard), three QB hurries and four total tackles … Started vs. Northwestern in Outback Bowl … Tied season high with five tackles, all solo stops, vs. Wildcats.

Injury Report

2011: Did not lift at the combine or Auburn's pro day due to a separated shoulder/AC joint injury that he said he suffered against Georgia.

Agility Tests

Combine: 4.56 40-yard dash; 31-inch vertical; 9'5" broad jump; 4.56 short shuttle; 7.14-cone drill; did not lift due to shoulder injury.

Junior College

Played at Copiah-Lincoln CC in Wesson, Miss. … All-Region XII in state of Mississippi in 2008 at defensive tackle … Had 63 tackles including nine for loss and seven quarterback sacks in seven games … Redshirted in 2007.

High School

Spent time on both sides of the ball as a senior, grading out at 97 percent on the offensive line and catching five passes for 150 yards at tight end, while making more than 90 tackles on defense … Named a 5A Lineman of the Year finalist and to the 5A All-State team by the ASWA … Ranked 28th among offensive guards and 15th overall in Alabama by rivals.com … Ranked No. 32 at the offensive tackle position by espn.com … Selected to the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic and played both ways in the game … Selected to the Mobile Press- Register's Elite 18 Alabama recruits list and the paper's Super Southeast 120 … Played in the AHSAA North/South All-Star game as a junior.


Born Jan. 23, 1988 … Son of Paula Rogers and Herbert Rogers … Major: Undecided.

Latest News
04/29/2011 - Considering the Arizona Cardinals and Detroit Lions already feature young, talented players at cornerback and defensive tackle respectively, their selections of LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson (No. 5) and Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley (No. 13 overall) rank as two of the first round's most intriguing selections. With the Cardinals expected to address their deficiency at quarterback through free agency or trade and the Lions having used the No. 1 overall two years ago on Matthew Stafford, the two clubs obviously didn't have to reach for a passer. As such, they were in the envious position of being able to take the "best player available." The shutdown duo of Patrick Peterson and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie could make the Cardinals an instant contender in the infinitely winnable NFC West. Likewise, pairing Fairley, the most talented defensive lineman in the 2011 draft, with second-year All-Pro defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and end Kyle Vanden Bosch could make the Lions a surprisingly dangerous threat to take a leap in the NFC North. - Rob Rang, NFLDraftScout.com

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