Coming into the NFL Scouting Combine this year, no one really had good idea on how Ole Miss star defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche would test not only on the field but also behind the curtains one on one with teams.
Everyone knew coming into the combine that Nkemdiche would test out well with his athleticism and skills but many had questions about how he would great grade with his character. From the incidents with pictures roaming around the internet of him smoking synthetic marijuana to incident of falling out of a four-story window. It all makes teams more worry of him of not as a player but as a person.
For many draft analysts and team executives, Nkemdiche is a question mark that no one can truly solve. Every since Johnny Manziel’s incidents with the law and his character issues, teams are starting to do a lot more research into player’s’ character traits instead of their skills, which they rightfully should.
Nkemdiche has been one of the touted players in the country since his days in high school where he was rated as the number one player in the country. It hasn’t matter where he has played. Nkemdiche has been a player that people kept an eye on so each mistake he has made was put under a microscope.
So how do teams rank him among their draft board with all of his off-field issues?
Along with highly touted players like Laremy Tunsil and Laquon Treadwell, Nkemdiche helped put along one of the best recruiting class in recent years for Ole Miss and helped revive the team’s image along with head coach Hugh Freeze.
For three seasons, Nkemdiche and the 2013 class help turn over a deprived Ole Miss team to a 27-10 record. Each year helping the Rebels have improved to 1-win a season and are establishing themselves as a powerhouse in the SEC conference.
During those three seasons, Nkemdiche recorded 81 tackles (41 solo), 16 tackles for loss, and six sacks. Not mention that he also saw time on the offensive side of the ball as a backer which he played in high school.
Still many scouts will ask why he didn’t dominate more with the talent that he has. While watching film, it’s clear that he is one of the more athletic interior lineman in the country and could go virtually unblockable IF he wanted to. Nkemdiche has been reported saying that at times he took plays off but continues to denounce that he isn’t that type of player.
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Regardless of how people look at it, Nkemdiche isn’t going to help himself unless he come clean about his past to teams who most likely know the answer before he gives it to them. Honesty is the only thing that help him and that still may not be in the case.
Everyone expects players with a bumpy past to easily rebound and become a great player but reality is that not everyone is going to turn around like Tyrann Mathieu or Marcus Peters. It just doesn’t happen very often and it should understand that these players aren’t always mature as fans think.
Not to mention that the 2016 interior defensive line class is as deep as recent years so some teams may see Nkemdiche as expendable player that they can take later on in the draft regardless of how much talent he has.
Players like Vernon Butler, Deforest Buckner, and Sheldon Rankins are all just a few names that are expected to be drafted in the first round that teams would feel more comfortable taking over Nkemdiche.
I personally believe that Nkemdiche is first round, top-10 talent with his skill set alone but it isn’t possible to see that with his past issues and the trust factor that will play into most general manager’s mind. If there was ever a player with a bigger “buyer beware” label in this year’s draft it would be Nkemdiche. I do think some team will take a chance on him in the first round but the question remains who?