Commentary

Big Board is a 'Fair' assessment

No player has come as far as Nick Fairley has this season. Now, he's on top.

Updated: January 12, 2011, 1:20 PM ET
By Mel Kiper Jr. | ESPN.com

An offense that dominated nearly everyone, an over/under in the stratosphere and plenty of time to scheme -- none of it mattered to Auburn's Nick Fairley. While the BCS title game certainly lent an advantage in my mind to a pair of solid defensive coordinators who had over a month to break down tape and prepare their teams for the nuanced approach, Fairley's utterly dominant performance against Oregon was right up there with the recent performance of Ndamukong Suh against Texas in last year's Big 12 title tilt.

And now his stock is where Suh's was as well, safely in the discussion as the possible No. 1 pick. On the flip side, Cam Newton had an up-and-down game and drops a couple spots this week. The quarterback class, minus Andrew Luck, is really going to test the scouting efforts of personnel people. As it stands -- and with plenty of evaluating left to do -- there might not be what I'd call a really good top-10 value among the QB class. But, again, there's much work to be done. As always, juniors and draft-eligible sophomores are noted with an asterisk.


Big Board Bar

1
DT
6-5
310

Analysis: Fairley simply dominated his final showcase game for scouts. A force all year while often not 100 percent, a perfect fit for a 4-3 interior. Last week: No. 2

2
DE
6-4
277

Analysis: The most gifted pure pass-rusher on the Board, Bowers has followed through on his talent. An ideal 4-3 DE, but Bowers has a chance as a 3-4 edge. Last week: No. 1

3
WR
6-4
207

Analysis: Allays any speed fears with improved route-running; and speed is fine. Green has worked hard to become a complete WR. Last week: No. 3

4
CB
6-1
211

Analysis: An extraordinary athlete, Peterson doesn't just have safety size, he'd measure up to a lot of RBs. Great special teams returner as well. Last week: No. 4

5
DE
6-3
306

Analysis: A solid penetrator; pass-rush skills trump run-stopping performance thus far, which is a reason I can see him becoming a solid 3-4 DE.Last week: No. 6



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Mel Kiper Jr.

Football analyst