Nicholas Lachester Fairley (born January 23, 1988) is an American football defensive tackle for the New Orleans Saints of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football for Auburn University, where he was recognized as an All-American and was a member of a BCS National Championship team. Fairley was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft. He has also played for the St. Louis Rams.



Early years

Fairley was born in Mobile, Alabama. He attended Williamson High School in Mobile, where he was a two-way lineman and also lettered in basketball. Regarded as a three-star prospect,[2] he was projected as an offensive guard. He committed to Auburn, but could not qualify academically.[3]

College career

Copiah-Lincoln Community College

Fairley attended Copiah-Lincoln Community College from 2007 to 2008. After being redshirted in 2007, he played in seven games in 2008. He recorded 63 tackles and seven sacks.[3]

Auburn University

Fairley transferred to Auburn University, where he played for the Auburn Tigers football team in 2009 and 2010. He finished the 2009 season with two starts in 13 games and recorded 28 tackles. Surprisingly quick for his size, his tendency to be flamboyant following a successful play placed him as a person of concern for officials. In 2010, he became the 2nd player from Auburn to win the Lombardi Award. He was coached by Lombardi winner and former Auburn player Tracy Rocker, and became the first player to win the Lombardi and be coached by a winner of the award.

During the 2011 BCS National Championship Game against the Oregon Ducks, Fairley had five tackles, a sack and a forced fumble. Three of his tackles were made behind the line of scrimmage. Fairley was selected as the defensive player of the game award.

Professional career

2011 NFL Draft

Only four days after the 2011 BCS National Championship Game, Fairley decided to forgo his final year of eligibility, entering the 2011 NFL Draft.[4] He was initially projected to be the first pick in the draft.[5] His measurements at the combine showed him to be 6 feet 3 7/8 inches tall and 291 pounds, somewhat less than his listing of 6-5 and 300 pounds at Auburn.[6] After the combine, he was projected in the 8-12 range.[7][8] Fairley was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the first round as the 13th pick overall.[9]

Pre-draft measurables
HtWtArm lengthHand size40-yd dash10-yd split20-yd split20-ss3-coneVertBroadBP
6 ft 3⅞ in291 lb34¾ in9¾ in4.84 s1.72 s2.76 s4.56 s7.14 s31 in9 ft 5 in 
All values from NFL Combine[10]

Detroit Lions

Fairley signed a 4-year contract with the Detroit Lions on July 28, 2011. The contract was 4-years worth $10 million with a $5.7 million signing bonus.

In Detroit he joined All-Pro Ndamukong Suh on the interior of the Detroit defensive line. Though at times his play was stout,[2] he was troubled by inconsistency.[2]

In his second season in the NFL Fairley recorded 5.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and 26 tackles. However, on December 12, 2012, Fairley was put on the injured reserve list, ending his season.[13]

Fairley's fourth season had been productive for the most part. However, on October 26, 2014, Fairley sustained a Medial collateral ligament sprain against the Atlanta Falcons at Wembley Stadium in London.[2]

St. Louis Rams

On March 13, 2015, Fairley signed a one-year, $5 million contract with the St. Louis Rams.[2][2] Fairley played in 15 games for the St. Louis Rams in 2015 along their defensive line rotation and recorded a career-high 63 tackles (31 solo), a split sack, two passes defensed and one fumble recovery.[17] On December 31, 2015, Fairley was placed on injured reserve.[2]

New Orleans Saints

On March 28, 2016, Fairley signed a one-year, $5 million contract with the New Orleans Saints.[17][2]

NFL stats

Career 61127844314440000003



  • GP: games played
  • COMB: combined tackles
  • TOTAL: total tackles
  • AST: assisted tackles
  • SACK: sacks
  • FF: forced fumbles
  • FR: fumble recoveries
  • FR YDS: fumble return yards
  • INT: interceptions
  • IR YDS: interception return yards
  • AVG IR: average interception return
  • LNG: longest interception return
  • TD: interceptions returned for touchdown
  • PD: passes defensed

Personal life

Since entering the NFL, Fairley has had a number of run-ins with the law. On April 3, 2012, Fairley was arrested in Mobile, Alabama for marijuana possession.[21] The charges were dismissed in December 2012.[22]

On May 27, 2012, Fairley was arrested by Alabama State Troopers for driving under the influence and attempting to elude police. He was also ticketed for reckless driving, having an open container of alcohol in the vehicle and no proof of insurance.[23]