Deciding which prospect to take with the number one overall pick is usually a relatively simple task. Months before the draft even starts, the team picking first often has identified its target and started negotiating a contract. This year was shaping up to be no different until consensus top pick, Andrew Luck, pulled his name from the running, returning to college and sending the Carolina Panthers scrambling. With no clear cut number one choice in this year’s class, the top blue chip talents are being run through a gauntlet of evaluations in order to discover which one is the surest bet to be an NFL star.
One name that keeps coming up in the conversation is Auburn defensive tackle, Nick Fairley. While a dominant defensive lineman seems like an obvious choice for a new Panthers coach, Ron Rivera, who prides himself on defense, Fairley is no lock to find himself at the top of the draft board. With two tremendously talented defensive tackles recently making the same transition to the pro game, in Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy, it’s important to see where Fairley stacks up against them in order to figure out the type of impact he could make at the next level.