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Detroit Lions draft defensive tackle Nick Fairley with No. 13 pick.

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Uploaded on May 2, 2011

This was all about winning time. Winning time in the fourth quarter and winning time in December and January.

The Detroit Lions ignored several other areas of concern on Thursday and bolstered their greatest strength when they selected Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley.

After his dominating performance in college football's national championship game, many draft experts believed Fairley might be a top three pick. But he played only two years at Auburn, and he was only an impact player during his final season.

"I really didn't know where I was going to go going into the draft, but Detroit picked me and I'm pretty excited," Fairley said on a conference call after he was selected.

"There were other guys (on the draft board), but in sort of our dream scenario, it was Nick Fairley falling to us," Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said.

With the Minnesota Vikings picking one spot ahead of Detroit at No. 12, the Lions were preparing plans to trade down from No. 13.

"There was discussion about us moving back -- or trying to move back -- and it was because we were very concerned the Vikings might take him," Mayhew said. "I'm just glad he slipped to us."

At 6-foot-4 and 300 pounds, Fairley has great explosion off the ball and had 11½ sacks and 24 tackles for loss last year. What makes this pick interesting is that the Lions took Ndamukong Suh at the very same position last year, and Suh was the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year. The Lions also traded last year for defensive tackle Corey Williams, who had a strong season.

"They'll all play. I think it's great to have three of them because they can stay fresh," Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said. "Ndamukong played over 950 plays last year and that's a lot of plays. It helps our pass rush for those guys to be fresh and it helps our run game.

"I think we all saw last year, late in the year, the impact that our defensive line had on our defense. It allowed us to win some games."

While there was a lot of talk about the Lions possibly taking a cornerback with their 13th overall pick, head coach Jim Schwartz said the importance of the defensive line can't be overlooked.

"We won our last four last year, and you could have a quiz show to find out who our corners were in some games. But we were good up front, and being good up front is what drives our defense," Schwartz said. "We have a player who can be an impact player for us. We didn't worry too much about what his play time would be."

Fairley, Suh and Williams will all split time at defensive tackle.

"We usually play about 130 defensive tackle snaps in a game so, if we're rotating three guys through and they're playing 45 snaps each, they'll be fresher and they can go in waves and waves," Schwartz said. "Ndamukong Suh probably played a little too much for us last year. Not that he wore down, but it was too many snaps in there. You're taking on 700 pounds of man every time you take on a double team."

The Lions' rotation now means they will be strong throughout the game and control the tempo along the line. It also means their players won't wear down during the long season and will be fresher for a potential playoff run late in the year.

"Playing with Suh is going to be an honor," said Fairley, who will wear No. 98. "The guy was defensive rookie of the year, so I can't wait to get in and pick his brain."

Find out what else Schwartz and |Mayhew had to say about drafting Fairley, hear from Fairley himself, also receive thoughts from Scott Anderson from 97.1 the Ticket and receive my thoughts as well. It's all in the Monday edition of the McShan Sports Beat Report.

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