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NFL Draft 2011: Nick Fairley and Suh; Detroit Lions, Back-to-Back and Side-by-Side

Nick Fairley
Nick FairleyRonald Martinez/Getty Images
Pancho SmithCorrespondent IIApril 29, 2011

Yesterday, the Detroit Lions used the 13th overall pick in the draft to gather their second consecutive Lombardi Award winner in two years.

Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley—the defensive star of the undefeated 2010 BCS National Champion Tigers —will now line up next to former Lombardi Award winner, AP Defensive Rookie of the Year and rookie Pro Bowl defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.

Meet the new Bruise Brothers.

Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz described the strategy of adding Fairley as “drafting to our strength.”

Duh.

In addition to Suh and Fairley, the Lions’ defensive tackle rotation includes Corey Williams, Andre Fluellen, Sammie Hill and Robert Callaway. With Fairley, Kevin Siefert of ESPN.com described the Lions front four as “probably the best defensive line in football.”

“They’ve got a chance to have a lights-out defensive line.”

“Nasty,” is the way Fairley described it on ESPN Radio.

Some Detroit fans were disappointed that the Lions passed on cornerback Prince Amukamara, who later went to the Giants at overall pick 19.

They shouldn’t have been surprised.

Schwartz has said all along that “Being good up front is what drives our defense.”

When Fairley, whom Mel Kiper and a lot of other draft gurus had rated as the No. 1 overall pick of the draft earlier in the year, slid to the Lions at pick 13, his value was crystal clear to GM Martin Mayhew, and thankfully, he pulled the trigger.

As Tom Kowalski at Mlive.com points out:

"The Lions' rotation now means they will be strong throughout the game and control the tempo along the line. It also means their players won't wear down during the long season and will be fresher for a potential playoff run late in the year."

Some red meat for Lions fans to chew on: Marcell Dareus was the first defensive tackle taken in the 2011 draft. Dareus, from Alabama, was taken by Buffalo at pick 3. Both Dareus and Fairley played in the SEC, the toughest conference in college football.

So how do Dareus and Fairley compare?

As Gregg Dovel of CBSSports.com points out, “Last season, Fairley had 60 tackles, including 24 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks. Dareus had 33 tackles, 11 TFLs and five sacks. He was half the player as Fairley, and they played in the same conference.”

There will be plenty of time after the draft has concluded to discuss what caused Nick Fairley to fall to the Lions and to analyze his flaws.

But for now, Detroit fans have better things to do. The second night of the draft begins at 6pm tonight, and the Lions have the 44th (second-round) and 75th (third-round) overall picks.

The excitement has barely begun.

So far Mayhew and Schwartz have done Detroit proud. There’s no reason to believe that they won’t continue to do so.

Stay tuned to the Bleacher Report for more updates and analysis on this all-important draft for the Detroit Lions.

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