|Auburn DT Nick Fairley, celebrating|
Others shy away from Fairley because of his penchant for cheap shots and dirty play, and still others shy away from him because he only had one dominant season against lower-grade quality linemen.
But perhaps there's another reason why the Carolina Panthers, and indeed, the Denver Broncos, Buffalo Bills, and possibly every other team picking in the top half of the first round should be leery of drafting not just Nick Fairley, but any other highly-touted defensive tackle.
This article, from the Ultimate New York Giants website, shows something quite surprising:
The original observation was that drafting Defensive Tackle in aggregate did not generate the kind of returns from the First Round we would expect. So far, the data from using the elementary 1-7 Rating system and number of Pro Bowls collected bears this out. We saw from the numbers that 31 Defensive Tackles generated 19 Pro Bowl appearances and knew that was low. Well, here with the Safeties, we have 22 Pro Bowls from 16 players.Those numbers are from the last ten years of first round draft picks. The author's conclusions are the same as mine - namely, that NFL GMs are drafting defensive tackles too early in the draft in comparison with return on their investment.
With that in mind, it's quite possible that there just simply needs to be a different way to evaluate defensive tackles, as it is clear that it is a more hit-or-miss draft selection than many other positions.