Detroit Lions  

 

Fairley has talent to give Lions second straight Rookie of Year

NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks solicited questions from fans on the NFL's Facebook page this week. After reviewing the submissions, he tackles the posts that grabbed his attention.

What kind of impact will  Nick Fairley make next to Ndamukong Suh? Will the Lions look to deal Corey Williams or Sammie Lee Hill? Corey G.

Fairley will make an immediate impact on the Lions' defensive line. He was arguably the most dominant defender in college a season ago, and his disruptive nature will be a hit in the Motor City. His combination of strength, power and quickness allows him to overpower blockers at the point of attack. Although he's still raw in several aspects, sheer talent and athleticism helped him produce 11.5 sacks against elite competition. More importantly, he was the best player on the field in his team's biggest games. From the BCS National Championship game to the SEC title game, Fairley stood out as a disruptive force.

Lions' draft picks
Rd
Sel. #
Player
Pos.
School
1
13
DT
Auburn
2
44
WR
Boise State
2
57
RB
Illinois
5
157
LB
Syracuse
7
209
OT
South Carolina State
» Lions' pick-by-pick analysis
» Lions earn high mark for draft class

In Detroit, Fairley joins one of the league's top interior defenders in Ndamukong Suh. The 2010 Defensive Rookie of the Year tallied 10 sacks and showed flashes of being unblockable at the point of attack. With Fairley joining Suh on the interior, the Lions have the flexibility to show a variety of looks to the opposing offense. Last season, Suh lined up extensively at left defensive tackle and played the one- or three-technique based on the strength of the offensive formation. This often pitted him against the opponent's weakest blocker (right guard), which resulted in frequent double teams. Now, the Lions can flip-flop their defensive tackles to keep opponents from directing double teams at Suh. Also, Fairley's pass-rushing skills will allow the Lions to be disruptive on passing downs.

While it makes sense to explore a trade at a position of strength, Williams and Hill will help Fairley make an immediate impact. Both are rugged interior defenders with solid run-stopping skills, and they will be incorporated into the rotation. Their ability to play 20-25 plays a game will allow Fairley to stay fresh and be better during the late stages of the game. At Auburn, scouts worried about Fairley's motor and inconsistent energy level. Having depth around him should alleviate some of the issues about his stamina and endurance.

With the situation in Detroit, I believe that Fairley will give the Lions a second straight Defensive Rookie of the Year and allow him to flourish going forward.

Follow Bucky Brooks on Twitter @BuckyBrooks.

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