Nick Fairley is one of two top 20 picks in the 2011 draft class, who didn’t start last week in the NFL. The other is N.Y. Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara.
Clearly the Detroit Lions defensive tackle has not lived up to first-round standards early in the second season of his career.
Fairley, the 13th overall pick in the 2011 draft, was slowed down by a broken foot in his rookie season. This year he’s healthy, but inconsistent. He appears overweight and, of course, hanging like a black cloud over his head are the two offseason arrests (drunk driving, marijuana possess) which could still cost him a suspension from the NFL.
With Corey Williams out on Sunday against the Vikings following knee surgery, it will be Fairley or Sammie Hill who gets the start. Hill certainly gets better reports from defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham.
Much was expected of Fairley this season. It’s early, but Hill, a 2009 fourth-round pick out of Stillman, is the better player at this point.
It is too early to say Fairley is a draft bust. But it’s safe to say he should be better. Corey Williams doesn’t get enough credit for his solid play, so it’s understandable that Fairley is behind him on the depth chart. But with Williams out this week, Fairley should have been playing well enough that there is not a question whether he or Hill will start.
Does it matter? Yes. Both will see playing time, but it will show who the coaches have more confidence in.
My guess is that Sammie Hill will get the start just like he did last year in three games — two during Ndamukong Suh’s suspension and one when Williams was out injured.
(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter.)