2. Denver Broncos- Nick Fairley, Auburn Tigers
After a season mared by disappointment the Denver Broncos are in essence ready to hit the restart button for their 2011 campaign, starting with the NFL draft. The first place new head coach John Fox will likely start is the defense, and what a better player to start with than Auburn's Lombardi Award winning defensive tackle Nick Fairley.
At 6'3", 291 pounds, Fairley could be considered a bit undersized at DT but makes up for it with his incredible speed and agility. The Broncos desperately need help defensively, especially with a pass rusher, and Fairley could become one of the best in the game with a little bit of work. The Broncos have a lot of options with this pick, including possibly trading down to gain extra picks, as well as needing help at cornerback and linebacker. LSU's Patrick Peterson, Texas A&M's Von Miller, or Alabama's Marcell Dareus could all be decent choices for the Broncos in this spot, but according to DraftTek.com's team needs matrix they've created, a defensive tackle stands atop their list, and in my opinion Nick Fairley is the best DT in the draft.
Fairley's explosiveness and ability to dominate an offensive line make him a hard guy to pass up for Denver, and I think he will mesh well with John Fox's player-friendly, defensive minded coaching style. He's shown some times where he can lose control of his emotions, but I'd rather see a guy show too much heart than not enough. There's a reason why he was voted the best DT in college football last year, because he truly was.
Like I said before, the Broncos definitely have options, but you can't let a game-changing player like Fairley slip through your fingers. NFL Network's Mike Mayock summed Fairley up my sentiments perfectly:
"He's a kid with elite ability, one of the only kids in the last 10 years where I can honestly say he could play every defensive line position in any scheme...He can play in the 3-4, he can play in the 4-3. He's a difference maker."
A difference maker is exactly what the Broncos' defense needs, and Fairley is the guy to do so.