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Once an option at No. 1, time has eroded Fairley's status

Wrap your head around this one: It will have been 108 days since the last college snap was taken when the NFL Draft kicks off on Thursday. And what is the worth of what happens between one event and the next?

I'm not totally sure.

But what I can say is that the rising and falling of draft stocks can be, at times, a little overblown. When it's real, the reasons why have little to do with what happened in previous autumns, which most folks agree should be most important.

Red flags might cause regret

When it comes to the draft process' downside, Nick Fairley told, "It just motivates me more to work harder, to prove to whoever is out there saying that (they're wrong)." **More ...**

"When a guy's stock falls from the time his last game is played until now it's not football-related generally," said one AFC college scout. "It's not related to the game film. It's character, personality, coachability, work ethic, leadership, intangibles. I'd say 49 times out of 50, that's it, and it's some sort of injury cropping up otherwise."

That brought me to Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley -- who I remember being hailed as a contender to go first overall after he dominated in the BCS title game in January, and who now some folks have falling into the teens.

So the question I wanted to answer, really, was: Is it us or them? Is it people in football changing their minds, or people outside (read: media) learning more about what those football people really think? Turns out, it could be a little of both.

The one truth I could find, though, is that while the college season is ongoing, an area scout covering a player's school might be the only rock-solid authority on how a kid's game translates. The rest are going on what they see, and in December or January, that might not be enough to make a great evaluation.

"There's a term in our business called 'TV scouting,' and we all use it -- on television you notice the big plays, which is what someone like Fairley does," said the scout. "It jumps off the screen and you don't notice the plays in between. And what you do, as an evaluator, is you watch the coaches' film and focus just on him. That TV camera follows the football, and it's very difficult to follow an interior lineman. In fact, it's almost impossible play-to-play.

"So I think a lot of people in our business got excited because they 'TV scouted' him. It wasn't just the (Oregon) game either. Against Alabama and LSU, he's jumping off the screen, too. A lot of folks watched these games and said, 'Holy (expletive).' Well, you go back and, yes, he makes plays, but he disappears, too."

And with Fairley, that's been born out. One AFC executive said, "When you draft a guy in the top 10, you want conviction on exactly what you're going to get, and it's hard to say you know exactly what you will get -- great flashes, but he's not always great."

An NFC executive added, "His technique for the position is poor, and he's a serious project concerning how to play low, and with leverage at the point. Too much (junior college) left in him."

All that said, and while our AFC scout said he is a kid "who needs a foot in his ass," the character concerns, off-field, seem to be overblown and off-base. The rest though? It's why Fairley's the classic case of a player whose stock moves in those 108 days.

Follow Albert Breer on Twitter @albertbreer.

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