The 76th Annual National Football League player 2011 Draft at Radio City Music Hall in New York City proves that the draft has become something more.
It is an occurrence that has become an event, with cities and teams hosting pre-draft parties at every bar and grill that wants to be in the football game.
In the 2011 happening the Detroit Lions selected Nick Fairley, a 6-foot-4, 298 pound defensive tackle from National champion Auburn.
While NFL No. 1 pick quarterback Cam Newton was the offensive thrust for the Auburn Tigers drive to the NCAA football national title, Fairley was the defensive presence. He dominated the 2010 college football campaign.
The Lions drafted defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh on the first round (2nd overall) in the 2010 NFL Draft, and he proved to be an excellent selection.
In fact, he earned the Associated Press Defensive Rookie of the Year title and was voted by the fans the 2010 Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year. Starting all 16 games the 6-foot-4, 307-pound Suh recorded a team-high 10 sacks along with 66 tackles.
By almost all NFL prognosticators the Lions were one of the teams to get a top grade. Pundits claim that Detroit is turning their franchise around because they’re not filling holes, they’re drafting football players: “Fairley and Suh could become a truly legendary DT combination.”
All Lions fans hope that that dreams will become a reality for the longsuffering Lions fans.
When a team finishes 6-10 all understand there is a lot of work to be done, but the selection of “Big Daddy” Fairley should go a long way in solidifying the Lions’ future direction.
“It was a great feeling,” Fairley said. “My dream finally came true, to finally play in the NFL. It’s been a dream since I was eight years old. The Lions have Ndamukong Suh and they’ve got a guy that’s a defensive end that’s a hard worker. I’m just looking to come in and work my butt off and contribute to the team.
“I really didn’t know where I was going to go coming into the draft. For Detroit to pick me, I’m very excited and I can’t wait to get to the town and get this thing started.
“Playing with Suh is going to be an honor. That guy was the Defensive Rookie of the Year, so to be able to play next to him . . . I can’t wait to get in and pick his brain for the things he did his rookie year.”
Some scouting reports say Fairley’s work ethic and maturity are in question. The reporters say that his football character needs to be adjusted, as does his mental capacity.
I say that football is a sport where people run into each other at 20 miles per hour and try to knock each other out of the game or even knock one’s head into the middle of next week.
So give me guys that like to hit hard like Fairley and push the envelope. But I do not want to see guys getting hit helmet-to-helmet, but that is not what Fairley does. He’s a brick in the middle of a defense.
“My take from it was that they’re a great group of guys, great group of coaches,” Fairley said. “I know they’ve got a game plan for the Detroit Lions and I’m happy to be part of it.”
The Lions had to decide if the pundits’ so-called concerns were justified and, if they were, whether the No. 13 spot was an appropriate place to take a calculated risk. General manager Martin Mayhew brought in Fairley for a late draft visit to the team’s Allen Park facility, and he also relied on a recommendation from Auburn defensive line coach Tracy Rocker — a former NFL teammate.
Lions coach Jim Schwartz noted he was happy with the pick and was completed sure Fairley would fit in nicely with what the Lions are trying to accomplish.
“He was an outstanding interview,” Mayhew said. “Great with us. Tracy spoke very highly of the young man. I spent a lot of time with him when he was here in the building and I think he’s a good player and a good person. He’s going to fit in here well. We’ve got great leadership in that room so I’m excited about working with him.”
Schwartz said: “The philosophy here was we’re drafting to our strength. Defensive line is a strength of what we do. We won our last four last year and you can probably have a quiz show to find out who our corners were in those games, but we were good up front. Being good up front is what drives our defense.”