Landing Fairley a "Dream Scenario" For Lions

Detroit Lions GM Martin Mayhew and Jim Schwartz talked about the opportunity to pick Nick Fairley -- and explain why the Auburn defensive tackle was simply too talented to pass at the 13th spot.

"Dream scenario."

Those were the words offered by Lions GM Martin Mayhew to describe the drafting of Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley, who fell to the Lions at the 13th overall pick on Thursday.

A dream -- for a ball club that already has superhuman Ndamukong Suh anchoring the middle. The Lions might have to switch their defense to a 3-4 just to squeeze both behemoths in the middle of the defensive line.

"We went through some scenarios and we were hopeful that he would fall to us," said Mayhew during a conference call. "He gives our defense a physical presence and we have a great tandem –- actually three great defensive tackles with Corey Williams, Suh and Nick Fairley."

The interior of Detroit's defensive line was already considered its strength. The team nearly doubled its sack total between 2009 and 2010, and the line was considered an integral part to a four-game winning streak to finish the season. Suh collected double-digit sacks en route to defensive rookie of the year honors.

So did the Lions get greedy?

This was the first round of the draft, a wealth of collegiate talent where teams can find prospects to address places of need on a roster. Although improved, the Lions still only won six games last season, so identifying needs isn't a complicated task.

And didn't the Lions have weaknesses, especially in the secondary? And offensive tackle? And linebacker? What about those? But in the end, it was a testament to just how good Fairley really is -- and why Detroit viewed his drop to the 13th overall pick (he was once considered No. 1 by most mocks) a significant value. He simply couldn't be bypassed.

"The talent was so much that it didn't give us any hesitation to draft him," said coach Jim Schwartz." (Fairley) dominated games at times; dominated a lot of games like Ndamukong Suh dominated."

So rather than draft to fill a weakness, the Lions took a more abstract approach: draft to your strength.

Mayhew talked about Suh and others staying fresh. Suh, after all, played nearly 1,000 snaps in 2010. In many of those situations, he faced a double-team. Said Schwartz, "you're taking (on) 700 pounds of man."

Schwartz, the numbers man, continued to put it in perspective.

"We play 130 defensive tackle snaps in a game," he said "So, if we're rotating three guys through and they're playing 45 snaps apiece -- there'll be a little bit of pressure.

"We can keep rolling waves and waves."

Waves and waves.

Sounds like a dream.


Nick Fairley on playing beside Ndamukong Suh:"Aw man, playing with Suh is going to be an honor That guy was the defensive rookie of the year, so to be able to play next to him -- I can't wait to get in and pick his brain for the things he did his rookie year."

Schwartz on addressing 'weaknesses' in later rounds: "We understand where we have spots on the team where we need to keep making progress There's spots on the team that we need to address, but I also think you can make some mistakes this time of year if you worry too much about those."

Schwartz on why Fairley fell from original mock drafts that had him going No 1 overall:I mean, how many people back then were putting four quarterbacks in the top 12? Probably zero.

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