Even after signing Nick Fairley in free agency, defensive tackle remains a big need for the New Orleans Saints going into the 2016 NFL Draft. Robert Nkemdiche could help establish the position for many years to come.
We continue our New Orleans Saints draft profile series with Ole Miss defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche, a big man with all the psychical gifts to star at the next level.
Weight: 294 LBS
Arm Length: 33 7/8 inches
Hands: 10 3/4 inches
40-yard dash: 4.87 seconds
Bench Press (225 LBS): 28 reps
Vertical: 35 inches
Broad Jump: 116 inches
As a starter at Ole Miss at the 3 technique spot, Robert Nkemdiche was a dominant figure in the trenches, constantly taking on double teams and doing the dirty work. He has strong hands and can overpower offensive linemen with his bull rush, where his excellent combination of power and quickness are in full affect. He has a great first step for his size and he often shoots the gap to get into the backfield.
His versatility stands out, as he fits both the 4-3 and the 3-4 and his size really allows him to line up all over the defensive line as he did at Ole Miss. He contributed in both the run game and getting after the quarterback, but mostly helped his teammates by taking on multiple blockers and therefore allowing them to attack.
Robert Nkemdiche has the potential to take over any game, but that was a rare sight in college. He often gets taken out of games and seems a bit lazy at times. His failure to really break out and be the go-to guy can be seen in his stats, as he only combined for 81 tackles, six sacks and 16 tackles for a loss over his entire career. His lack of moves shows and he tends to try the spin move if his initial move doesn’t work. This often leads to him getting caught and being unable to locate the ball.
Outside the field he has his problems. That was evident when he fell out of a fourth-floor window, after reportedly being “paranoid” due to him smoking synthetic marijuana. This incident definitely hurt is draft stock and removed him from top-10 contention.
Watch Robert Nkemdiche show what effect he could have on a game:
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How he fits with the New Orleans Saints:
The Saints signed Nick Fairley this offseason which was a huge upgrade from last year, but there is definitely still room for improvement and Robert Nkemdiche would lock down the defensive tackle position for years to come. He would play at the 3-technique spot next to Fairley, where they could form a dynamic duo in the front of the Saints defense.
With the right mentoring and coaching, Nkemdiche could develop into the dominating defensive player the Saints need next to Cam Jordan, as he could complement with freakish athletic ability and mean physicality. But as of right now, he is a very raw prospect. Some also question his love and passion game, and whether or not he possesses the motivation and mindset to become great on the next level.
Going into this season, many labeled Robert Nkemdiche as the first pick of the 2016 NFL Draft, but after some off-field issues and the inability to put up big stats, his stock has plummeted and he could fall to the second round. In my opinion, he would only be an option for the Saints in the second, and even there it would be a huge risk taking him. He may have more potential than any other player in the draft, but only he knows if he’s ready to take off and become a star in the NFL.