Summary: Nick Fairley is a difference-maker on the defensive line. He gets into the backfield and wreaks havoc by either blowing up a running play or harassing the quarterback.
Handing a lot of money to a player in the trenches is always a big risk either in the draft or free agency as the Washington Redskins found out with Albert Haynseworth. This is a critical factor when evaluating Fairley because his work habits are questionable even before his NFL payday. He is also prone to penalties that NFL teams will not tolerate and has the "dirty player" tag.
If Fairley can stay motivated, work on his lower body and play clean, he is going to be a terror. He is best suited as an under tackle in a 4-3, but some teams might look at him as a 3-4 defensive end (five-technique).
Player Comparison: Darnell Dockett. Others have likened Fairley to players like Kevin Williams, Albert Haynesworth, Ndamukong Suh and Warren Sapp. To be different, I am going with Dockett in part because of the "bad boy" image. Coming into the draft, Dockett needed to add muscle mass, which he did, and the same is true for Fairley. Another similarity as prospects is questionable work ethic. In fairness, Dockett was significantly more experienced. If we can get Fairley to be more interesting on Twitter (War Eagle shoutouts do not qualify), this will be an even better comparison.