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Tuesday, March 8, 2011
How big pro day affects AFC West

By Bill Williamson

There were three pro-day performances Tuesday that could have an impact on the AFC West. Let’s take a look:

Nick Fairley, defensive tackle, Auburn: While Fairley’s college teammate Cam Newton was the headliner at the Auburn pro day, Fairley could easily be picked ahead of him. He is expected to be one of the players Denver seriously considers taking with the No. 2 pick.

That would explain news cameras showing Denver’s John Fox and John Elway closely watching Fairley’s workout Tuesday. According to ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay, Fox and Elway saw quite a show. On ESPN’s “SportsCenter,” McShay said he was “blown away” by Fairley’s performance. McShay said it was one of the best workouts he’d ever seen by an interior lineman. McShay raved about Fairley’s footwork.

This performance should very much keep Fairley in the mix for the No. 2 pick.

Cam Newton, quarterback, Auburn: The only team that figures to be affected by Newton is Denver, but it’s highly unlikely the Broncos would consider him. What the Broncos would like to see is Newton to go No. 1, so it opens up the entire defensive board to them at No. 2. Newton reportedly improved Tuesday after a disappointing performance at the combine.

This is important because Carolina could be tempted to take Newton at No. 1. A strong performance Tuesday may have revived his chances of going No. 1.

Ryan Mallett, quarterback, Arkansas: There were previous talks that Mallett could fall to the second round. If he falls to No. 48, I’d think Oakland would be tempted to take him. However, he reportedly had a very strong pro day. He has an incredible arm and he clearly has first-round ability.

Yes, he has character issues and he is slow of foot. But he has potential to be a top quarterback. I doubt he’ll fall to where Oakland can get him at No. 48 unless he has a setback before the draft.