Insiders

Robert Nkemdiche Is The Draft’s Biggest Faller

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Three months ago, Robert Nkemdiche was universally regarded as a top-five prospect in this draft class; however, his draft stock has stumbled downward ever since.

To understand why the Ole Miss defensive tackle’s draft stock is in free fall, we must first look at why he was regarded so highly in the first place.

Coming out of high school, Nkemdiche was a five-star recruit who was touted as a once-in-a-decade type of talent. He had the size and athleticism that made college coaches drool, the fact that he landed with the Rebels was a major coup that put them on the right track to be a viable team in college football’s best conference, the Southeastern Conference.

During his three-year career, Nkemdiche flashed the size and athleticism that made him such a highly regarded recruit. He would flash some plays that made you jaw drop.

This is where the first problem with Nkemdiche in relation to his projection to the NFL lies, he didn’t nearly flash enough for how much talent he had. Nkemdiche routinely went quiet throughout games, which in unacceptable for a player with his athleticism and size.

This is why the reports that Nkemdiche has fallen in this draft due to just his character concerns aren’t painting a full picture. The troubled defensive tackle has even stated that teams are questioning him about more than his character concerns.

When asked about what teams are most concerned with he said, “Some have asked about my production of course.”

On the field, Nkemdiche’s production is troubling. In 2015, he recorded just seven tackles for loss and three sacks, which are terrible numbers for a prospect who was rated in the top five just three months ago.

In regards to his poor production, Nkemdiche said, “Of course. There are times I didn’t finish. I was lazy on some plays at times, but I told them I’m going to keep growing as a player.”

Sometimes, the tape doesn’t match the production, but in this case, it does. Nkemdiche is routinely handled by down blocks and he struggles mightily with hand placement and pad level. He doesn’t win consistently one-on-one and he doesn’t have a great motor. All of which should disqualify him from being a first-round pick, let alone a top-five pick.

Now, when you couple that with his character concerns and you see a player who may see a bigger fall than many are even projecting at this point in time.

One of those concerns is whether Nkemdiche loves football enough to realize his potential. He took plays off on a consistent basis and he didn’t make basic reads that point to the fact that he doesn’t study and work enough on the fundamentals.

Another concern is about the incident in Atlanta which resulted in Nkemdiche falling from a hotel window and subsequently being suspended for Ole Miss’ bowl game. He has stated that he was just drunk and not under the influence of marijuana even though he was charged with possession of the substance.

Nevertheless, one of the more troubling aspects of Nkemdiche’s character is that he threw his teammate and possible No. 1 pick, Laremy Tunsil under the bus, by relaying to the media that Tunsil was present at the incident in Atlanta.

Now, where would a team feel comfortable taking a player who has great athleticism and size but also has thrown a teammate under the bus, questionable decision-making and average tape? That question will be answered in April, but you can bet it won’t be in the top-five and the smart money would be on him not even going in the first round.


About John Owning

John Owning

John Owning is a NFL columnist for Football Insiders. He has years of experience covering the NFL, NFL draft and NCAA football. John's work has been featured on the Bleacher Report and DraftBreakdown.com