NFL Draft 2011: Is Nick Fairley Really Slipping Down the Draft Boards?

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NFL Draft 2011: Is Nick Fairley Really Slipping Down the Draft Boards?
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What's up with Nick Fairley's falling stock?

Nick Fairley of the Auburn Tigers, considered at one point to be a possible No. 1 overall pick, has seemingly fallen down the draft boards as teams raise concerns regarding his character.

Also, the fact that he really only has one good year on his resume has to be an issue for teams.

However, the fact of the matter is that Nick Fairley is a physical specimen at 6'4", 291 lbs. People that big shouldn't be able to move the way that he does, and yet he does it with ease. He's shown amazing strength in tossing offensive lineman and rushing by them with linebacker speed.

It's very possible that he's the second coming of Warren Sapp, a force so dominant inside that every team that passed on him kicks themselves for the next 10 years.

There are certainly red flags surrounding him, but I feel as though many of them are unjustified and unwarranted.

First, the character issues. He started off at community college after being deemed academically ineligible to play Division I football coming out of high school. Fairley was also scheduled to have dinner with representatives from the Miami Dolphins, but didn't show up.

Sure, neither of those things look very good on a resume, but don't hold a few minor transgressions against a player that could solidify a weak defense the moment he arrives at training camp.

Sometimes NFL organizations have to trust their coaching abilities and trust that they can coach a player into being a star. It may take a little extra work to get Fairley to mature, but in this instance, the juice will definitely be worth the squeeze.

Another thing that has NFL teams worried is Fairley's seeming inability to control himself on the field, leading to cheap shots and dirty hits. In the November 13 game against Georgia this year, Fairley committed multiple personal fouls and he was lucky to not be ejected or suspended.

That being said, I like a defensive tackle with a mean streak. If you remember, in one of Ndamukong Suh's first preseason games last year, he essentially body slammed Jake Delhomme. Yes, he was flagged for it, but that type of on-field aggression simply can't be taught, and it strikes fear in the hearts of opposing quarterbacks.

I think Fairley could have a Suh-type impact on whatever defense he joins.

Besides, if a team drafts Fairley in the first five picks, he'll have plenty of money to pay the fines for late hits.

The fact that he's a one-year wonder should not be any cause for concern, either. He's a one-year wonder because it would be silly to return to school now. What does he have left to prove? He's already dominated some of the most talented offensive lineman in the SEC, and for him to return just to say he played for more than one year would be foolish.

Fairley didn't put up big numbers in 2009 because he was new to the team and didn't get as much playing time. I think he's proven once and for all that if you put him on the field, good things will happen.

The fact that all of these issues are taking center stage at this point with the draft nine days away makes one wonder who's causing all of this noise. Could it be that a team like Miami is perpetuating these stories in hopes that he will fall to 15? Obviously, this is pure speculation, but it wouldn't be the first time such a maneuver was employed.

GMs are notoriously shrewd and shifty this time of year, doing anything in their power to gain an advantage. I'm sure Nick Fairley has drawn the interest of many teams, some that we haven't heard a peep out of. I fully expect him to be drafted within the first 10 picks.

Whoever does take him will be happy they did.

Mike Osterberg is a student at Penn State University and Featured Columnist for the New York Giants. Follow him on twitter @Mike_Osterberg.

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