Nick is an athletic defensive tackle who, right now, is quicker than most college offensive linemen he competes against. He shows on the film the ability to change direction, quick feet and is a disruptive force for his college team. He has very good lower body strength and can push the pocket. Nick is a pure 1-gap attack defensive lineman. On passing plays, he must be accounted for or he will get into the backfield and disrupt the rhythm of an offense. Nick reminds me a lot of Glen Dorsey who was 5th pick of the 2008 draft by the Kansas City Chiefs. Nick had an excellent championship game, but Nick has done a very good job all year being a disruptive force for his college team.
My biggest concern is that Nick does not stop the run very well at all. He is easily handled when double-teamed and pushed off the line of scrimmage. He does not engage and shed blockers at all to make a tackle in the hole. He does not use his hands to his advantage at all. Right now, in my opinion, Nick is very one dimensional and will struggle in the multi-faceted defenses that will be required of him to learn and play in at the next level. In short, Nick is a one trick pony and that will not do at the next level. He doesn't seem to have very good upper body strength, which is another issue if you play a 2-gap system. Nick also lacks mental stamina and strength and does stupid things when he gets tired to try to intimidate his opponents.
This style of defensive tackle struggles to impact at the next level. Investing top ten money in Nick because he is quick is not enough for me personally. I like Nick's talent, but not until later in the draft. Nick will need time to get stronger, to acquire better technique to stop the run and to learn defense in the NFL. Some teams are going to list Nick higher than others if they play a one gap system. I could see how that would bring him into the latter part of the first round, but Nick is being considered as a possible top ten pick by some. For me, top ten talent has to show signs that they are multi-faceted and can play in different systems because coaches get fired now before players do. If you want to draft Nick somewhere in the first round, then remember this: Glen Dorsey was drafted in 2008, did not play like a first rounder until the 2010 season and still is not playing like the top 10 pick he was. Defensive tackle is a very tough position to play. It takes time to develop a good defensive tackle and most highly rated ones struggle to make the transition quickly. Nick played his championship game and Oregon chose to not block him, for which he made them pay. Auburn coaches were smart and changed Nick over to that particular defensive line position because they knew that Oregon's offense left that position unblocked most of the time. The problem is that game in no way shows Nick's ability to impact at the next level. It did show that if you choose not to block Nick, he will take advantage of that and dominate. I suspect that I will be one of the few who will suggest that Nick should not be considered as a top ten pick in this draft, but then again, I have been wrong before. I'm not afraid to be wrong again, but I think if you look back in the archives at my profile of Glen Dorsey you will see that maybe, just maybe, I might be right on this one. For me, Nick is a boom or bust player and that is the kind of player I like to stay away from in the top ten or, for that matter, in the first round. Look for Rob's board to find out where Nick will be drafted. Don't worry Nick Fairley fans; I'm sure I am in the minority, but the real question is whether I'm right or wrong about his transition to the NFL.
The BS Detector
Drew Boylhart Jan/11