Defensive Tackle #5
6’3″ 294 Junior
A top recruit out of Georgia, Robert Nkemdiche followed his brother to Ole Miss after formerly committing to Clemson. Nkemdiche made an immediate impact in his freshman season in 2013 with 10 starts and receiving Freshman All-America and Freshman All-SEC accolades with 34 tackles, eight for loss and two sacks. His production didn’t sky rocket from there, as most would expect, as he ended his final two seasons at Oxford with just 11 tackles for loss and five sacks combined. Lack of production and now red flag character and off-the-field concerns, along with some other things, have made Nkemdiche’s stock unpredictable going into the draft.
Nkemdiche boasts a god-like frame with excellent tone and muscle mass all throughout his body to show continuity winning at the point of attack. He displays good movement skills lining up at multiple techniques showing the ability to rush the passer and two-gap in the interior. He shows he can convert power into speed to wrap up running backs in the backfield while also being a for-sure tackler. When playing low to the ground with the appropriate pad level, he is nearly unstoppable.
Nkemdiche’s ceiling is through the roof having attractive tools to be an effective interior pass rusher and a solid run stopping 3-tech defensive tackle. With a heaping hand of positives comes another handful of negatives. Nkemdiche’s love for the game has been questioned, as it is obvious that he has a motor that runs extremely hot or extremely cold. Many times it was noticeable that he would just go through the motions of what he should be doing serving more as a liability than an asset. Once engaged, he made a bad habit of tapping out on the play and just letting his teammates finish out the rep. Nkemdiche serves as a solid run defender but adding more pass rush moves would be something to consider continuing to add more traits to his game.
Nkemdiche is your ideal definition of a high-risk, high-reward type prospect. Having great movement skills and being able to dominate at the point of attack if playing with appropriate leverage, he is a force to be reckoned with. Inconsistencies highlight Nkemdiche’s draft report with a wishy-washy motor, off the field and character issues and the concern that he doesn’t take football seriously enough. Boasting a great skill set and traits to become a future All-Pro caliber player, Nkemdiche has more than enough things to work on starting with his mind to seriously focus on football and improving his style of play.
Round Grade/Value: First Round Talent
NFL Comparison: Leonard Williams
From a talent and scheme versatile perspective, Williams and Nkemdiche favor each other. Having the ability to play defensive end in a 3-4 scheme or provide run stopping ability in the interior in any scheme, the two can create havoc and fits for their opposition. Williams didn’t have the character concerns that comes with Nkemdiche, but the solid movement skills and consistent ability to win at the point of attack is how the players relate to one another.