Fairley: ‘My best years are ahead’

When it comes to the downside of the draft process — when his work ethic, consistency and character are questioned at seemingly every turn — Auburn DT Nick Fairley does his best to ignore it.

His best, which he describes as “in one ear and out the other,” is an effort to keep it all from becoming too stressful. But that’s not always possible. So when it does get to him, Fairley takes it personally.

Then he uses it as fuel for the fire.

“As far as that’s concerned, when that comes out, it just motivates me more to work harder, to prove to whoever is out there saying that (they’re wrong),” Fairley said during Thursday’s visit to NFL Network. “I can’t wait to get into the NFL and get started to prove it to all those people who said I’m a one-hit wonder, or that my work ethic is under question, or that I have character issues. … I’m ready to prove them wrong and let them know Nick Fairley is here. I’m ready to work.”

There’s real sincerity in Fairley when he says he doesn’t care where he goes in the draft, he’s just trying to enjoy the experience. He certainly doesn’t shy away when asked if he’s the best available defensive tackle — “Hands down,” he says — and when NFL teams have asked these same questions about these same issues, he has an answer.

“My best years, I feel like, are ahead of me playing football,” Fairley said. “I’m just really ready and determined to take my game to another level in the NFL, to a level where I’m not just a good player, I’m a great player. As far as my work ethic is concerned, I leave it all on the field throughout the week. I practice hard.”

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