2015 NFL Free Agency Preview: Top 5 Defensive Tackles

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Oct 12, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (90) and defensive tackle Nick Fairley (98) sack Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) in the fourth quarter at TCF Bank Stadium. The Lions win 17-3. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

2. Nick Fairley

Pros: Fairley has been Ndamukong Suh’s partner in crime for the past four years, the former #13 overall pick of the 2011 draft is a capable defensive tackle in his own right, generally used as a weakside 2 or 3 technique tackle in Detroit’s defense while Suh lined up strongside or at the nose. At 6’4″ and 290 pounds, he is incredibly quick with good top-end speed for a big man, and nearly always beats Suh off the ball on tape.

Cons: For a man his size, Fairley possesses less than ideal strength, and can be taken out of a game by a guard who can keep up with his quick feet. Fairley also has had off-the-field issues, including just wrapping up a DUI trial. There are major questions about his work ethic an maturity, and he has struggled with weight issues throughout his time in Detroit, at points weighing over 310 pounds and it wasn’t muscle. He has also never been available for a full 16 game season in his four year career, and is coming off a knee injury that sidelined him for the second half of the 2014 regular season.

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  • Scheme Fit: Fairley is a prototypical hybrid 3-tech tackle who can flex to be a 5-tech defensive end or line up over the top of a guard, or even inside in a 1-technique. If he plays down toward his rookie weight – 290 or so – and if his knee hasn’t slowed him down too much, he could even be used as a 5-tech end. But he lacks the pure speed to play on the edge, and lacks the frame and strength to be an every-down nose tackle.

    Market Value: With his teammate Ndamukong Suh on the market, the value for any other defensive tackle in this market may not be as high, at least not before Suh signs with somebody. With his injury and weight management history, he’s also going to scare off many cautious GM’s. He may be able to secure a four or five year deal somewhere, but probably not for more than $35M total. His best option may be to stay in Detroit, who will likely move to re-sign him now that Suh is headed out the door.

    Would he sign with the Raiders: No. Detroit has all the money in the world to keep him in house now, and he could not even see the open market. If he does, Reggie McKenzie probably wouldn’t seriously consider him, not with his off-field issues, questions regarding work ethic, and injury history, especially if Reggie can get Suh.

    Next: DT Rankings: #3 Jared Odrick