NFL Scouting Combine: 10 defensive linemen for New Orleans Saints to eye

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Dec 5, 2015; Waco, TX, USA; Baylor Bears defensive tackle Andrew Billings (75) rushes against the Texas Longhorns during the first quarter at McLane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 5, 2015; Waco, TX, USA; Baylor Bears defensive tackle Andrew Billings (75) rushes against the Texas Longhorns during the first quarter at McLane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /
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Robert Nkemdiche
Oct 3, 2015; Gainesville, FL, USA; Mississippi Rebels defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche (5) looks on prior to the game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Name: Robert Nkemdiche
School: Ole Miss
Position: DT/DE
Size: 6-foot-4, 296 LBS
Projected round: 1

Nkemdiche is a freak of an athlete, which is why he was the most heavily recruited prospect in the nation heading into Ole Miss.  He’s big, quick, powerful, explosive, and fluid off the snap.

However, while his numbers weren’t eye-popping in college, he was still a force, and his ceiling at the next level, especially with the proper development under good NFL coaching, is endless.  There’s just one thing — character issues.

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton hates headaches, and if Nkemdiche can’t stay out of trouble, there’s no way he lands in New Orleans.  The Ole Miss defensive tackle was suspended for the Sugar Bowl following his arrest in December on marijuana possession charges.  According to police reports, he fell 15 feet out of a window at an Atlanta hotel, where the illegal substance was later found.

A lot of people smoke pot, and while it may just be a minor charge, it’s still illegal.  And that’s not going to fly down on the bayou.  But despite his past, Nkemdiche will be tough to pass up if he falls to the Saints at No. 12.  Whether or not there are trust issues will be key, because I’m sure Sean Payton and other Saints staff members will be meeting with the young talent before draft day.

New Orleans needs help up front immediately.  With defensive end and tackle experience, Nkemdiche can be used along the entire front for certain packages.  However, he’s best suited at tackle, which is a huge need for the Saints at the moment.

Next: Sheldon Rankins

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