In mock drafts, Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley is commonly sent to the Carolina Panthers with the No. 1 overall pick. But is Fairley even the best draft prospect at his own position?
NFL Network’s Mike Mayock doesn’t think so. And neither does NFL Network’s Warren Sapp.
“He doesn’t use his hands,” said Sapp on Total Access, after watching film of Fairley. “He’s just bigger and more athletic than most of the guys. … He must work on his technique.”
Like Mayock, Sapp believes that Alabama’s Marcell Dareus is the better defensive tackle prospect.
Statistically, Fairley has a big edge. He racked up 24 tackles for loss to lead all NCAA defensive tackles last season, adding 11.5 sacks, 21 quarterback pressures, and two forced fumbles. Dareus had 11 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, 10 QB hurries, and no forced fumbles, although he was suspended two games and didn’t play a production-friendly position at defensive end in Nick Saban’s 3-4 scheme.
Mayock explained his preference for Dareus on Thursday:
“They are both great football players. The key in evaluating Fairley is whether or not you’re going to get the same player week in and week out. He has some work ethic issues, but is one of the most dominant defensive linemen I’ve seen on tape. Dareus is also a top-five pick, and … played through considerable injuries this year.
“Bottom line, Fairley may have a little bit more upside, but I think Dareus is the safer pick.”