Monday, April 11, 2011

Bowers' Gain = Fairley's Loss?

A quick draft thought on Da’Quan Bowers and how his situation impacts other draftees. Bowers currently owns this year’s most volatile stock, as rumors over the severity of his knee injury have seen him go from a possible #1 overall selection to a player who might not hear his name called until the Bucs pick. While I can’t claim to know his true health status, based on all I’ve read, I lean towards the injury not being nearly as severe as some of the rumors are claiming. If Bowers checks out medically in the end, the player I believe who will be impacted most by the Clemson Tiger’s draft fate is Auburn Tiger Nick Fairley. I see Fairley as a 4-3 defender only which would limit him to Carolina, Denver, Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Tennessee in the top 11 picks. Where does he rank on their boards?

I still have Carolina taking Newton, and if they went defense it would be Dareus. A couple of months ago I said that Fairley should be their pick, but that’s when Fairley’s stock was considered by the “experts” to be higher than Dareus’ and when I thought Carolina would focus on penetration skills from the 3-technique.

Denver needs a DT, but Dareus has become the consensus better, safer pick.

There’s a greater chance Cincinnati goes QB (Gabbert), WR (Green), or DE (Bowers, Quinn) than DT.

Cleveland needs help up front on defense, but they’re said to be taking a very safe approach to this year’s draft. That likely rules out Fairley, and like Cincinnati, I think there’s a better chance they take a pass rusher or receiver than gamble on Fairley.

Tennessee is the pivotal pick in my opinion. If a QB doesn’t fall to them, it looks like they’ll be deciding between defensive linemen. Do they take Bowers and put him with last year’s #16 overall selection, Derrick Morgan, as a pair of potentially dominating ends, or do they opt for Fairley and hope he’s not Albert Haynesworth II? Maybe I’m wrong, but if Tennessee was to go DT, I think they’d probably look for a bigger, stouter option to pair with Jason Jones and Tony Brown. One thing that might work in Fairley’s favor is that his former position coach at Auburn, Tracy Rocker, is now Tennessee’s defensive line coach.

If the Titans don’t take him, how fall will Fairley fall? After Tennessee it’s three 3-4 teams in Dallas, Washington, and Houston, and then Minnesota and Detroit, two teams with bigger needs elsewhere. Could a player who was at one time considered an option at #1 overall fall to the Rams at #14? They’re said to be high on Corey Liuget, so would they pass on Fairley for him?

In the end, he may still be a top 10 pick, but I think due to his lack of position flexibility and the schemes and needs of the teams picking in the top 10, Nick Fairley’s limited landing spots will be directly impacted by how those same teams value Da’Quan Bowers and his right knee.

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