Between preparing for the NFL combine, and fitting in the time between two a days, I had the opportunity to send some questions to Auburn defensive tackle and possible #1 pick Nick Fairley. Nick's camp was fantastic throughout this process, and it was great to have a player so young know the value of connecting to fans early, and often.
Cat Scratch Reader: You've been labeled as a 'dirty' player by some members of the media. How do you respond to this?
Nick Fairley: Everyone has an opinion and mine is that I play the game like it should be played. I turn my motor on at the start of the game and don't turn it off until it's zero zero.
CSR: It's 4th and 1- Do you want the offense to call a run play or a pass?
NF: A running play because I have a bigger opportunity to make a significant play for the team. They'll probably run up the middle and I'll be ready.
CSR: Why do you believe you're worth the #1 overall pick in the 2011 draft?
NF: Because I bring an athleticism, leadership and the skill to be a major disruptive force on the field. Off the field I'll become a valuable member of the community real fast. I want to be a member of the team for the next ten or more years and bring joy to the Carolina fans. If the Panthers pick me I plan on doing everything to make a major impact from the start.
More with Nick Fairley after the jump
CSR: Is there a current or former NFL defensive tackle you think your game resembles?
NF: Reggie White because he used his hands well and had great footwork. I put a lot of effort into that and I think it makes me a better player.
CSR: What's more important to you: Being the #1 overall pick, or finding a team where you fit with their defensive philosophy?
NF: It's more important for me to fit into the team with their defensive philosophy but also fit in as an individual. I don't want to just be another number. I can be both though, right? *laughs* Really I can't say it enough and maybe people don't believe it but I just want to play in the National Football League. And wherever I land I guarantee I'll work to be the best I can be and make an impact right away.
CSR: Can you tell us a little more about your ‘Nick Flair’ nickname?
NF: It started on Twitter. I said Whooo! And a fan commented that I sounded like Rick Flair. We just had fun with it and one day it turned into Nick Flair
CSR: How do you feel about potentially going to a 2-14 team?
NF: I'm willing and able to come in and help turn things around. We get the talent and the chemistry going on the team and that's what we'll do- turn it around.
CSR: Do you see yourself as a 3-technique, a 5-technique guy, or do you think you can play some zero also at the next level?
NF: I can play any of those, whatever it takes.
CSR: Are there any current Carolina Panthers defensive players you would like to play next to?
NF: All of them!
CSR: What do you make of the idea that defensive tackles rarely get drafted No. 1 overall? If it happens, what kind of pressure would you feel to not be "the next Dan Wilkinson" or "the next Steve Emtman"?
NF: Don't they say defense wins championships? If you're athletic enough to run down the field and strong enough to hold the block like me then I think a DT can make a great #1 overall pick. As far as the pressure of being #1 overall? I'm a competitor. Pressure drives me to be the best I can. I don't worry about pressure. I thrive on it.
CSR: CB Patrick Peterson has famously said he'll run under 4.20 in the 40 yard dash at the combine. How fast do you think you'll run it?
NF: I'll be happy to hold the stopwatch for him. *laughs*
CSR: Are there any events you’ll skip at the combine?
NF: I'll be ready to show them everything I've got.
CSR: If you could tell one thing to every Carolina Panther fan, what would it be?
NF: Draft me. I hear you've got the kind of community I would like being a part of.
Thanks again to Nick Fairley for being so accommodating to us fans. CSR community, what do you think of Nick after the interview? Do you think his personality would be a good fit for the Panthers? Let us know!