With a tip of the hat to the crowd asking me "What took you so long!?" I've added Nick Fairley to the Big Board this week. But don't accuse me of being late to the party. In early September, well before Fairley was leading the nation in tackles for loss, I wrote about Fairley and said people around Auburn had told me what a great talent he was. I also noted that with added consistency, the "sky was the limit" -- a phrase which, in retrospect, seems to also apply to Fairley's team.
I tend to avoid adding juniors and draft-eligible sophomores to the Big Board too early if they aren't really high up the Board, as you don't want to over-influence guys regarding their status while still early in the season. (Believe me, countless coaches have been in my ear when they think I'm over-hyping one of their young guys.) But Fairley is now well into the season, and with another dominating performance, has climbed all the way to No. 8. The other big name to watch is Georgia's Justin Houston. I love his size, skills and the kind of development he's shown (and wrote about it here). As always, juniors and draft-eligible sophomore have an asterisk. Until next week
Analysis: Arm, footwork, size, smarts and poise are all there. I credit Luck's "check down" skills, but 8.64 YPA is nothing to scoff at. Last week: No. 1
Analysis: After a four-game suspension, Green has been unstoppable. You can double or bracket him, but he's still getting 16.6 yards per catch. Last week: No. 2
Analysis: Safety size with lockdown corner skills. Amukamara did have his worst game of the season -- OSU's Justin Blackmon beat him several times. Last week: No. 3
Analysis: Amazing size-speed combo. Essentially takes a WR out of the game plan. Cam Newton didn't challenge him. Averages 19.7 yards per punt return. Last week: No. 4
Analysis: A freakish athlete with decent size, great quickness and pass-rush skills. Ineligible for the year, but scouts still in awe of talent. Last week: No. 5