If it wasn’t for off field issues, Robert Nkemdiche might be one of the first players taken off the board on NFL draft night. But he’s incredibly talented, with about half the league after him, working him out on pro days or having him over for visits. That list includes the Chicago Bears, Denver Broncos, Arizona Cardinals, Cincinnati Bengals, Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers, San Diego Chargers, Oakland Raiders & the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Nkemdiche entered the season as the favorite to be the number one pick in the draft, possibly along Joey Bosa of Ohio State. The defensive tackle, who was named to All-American Second Team and All-SEC first team in 2015, finished his career in Ole Miss with six sacks in 29 games, also producing 18 tackles for a loss. He was often doubled teams but was difficult to slow down. The Bengals and Dolphins were especially impressed with him during the Ole Miss pro day, with reps from both teams running the workouts.
Nkemdiche right now looks like a late first round pick at best. Why? First of all, despite everyone being impressed with his speed and size, the production has been disappointing, as he seems to lose some drive after the initial pass-rush and doesn’t possess as second move. However, it was his fall from an Atlanta area hotel room, resulting in an arrest for marijuana possession and a suspension from the team’s bowl game, resulting in him choosing to head off to the NFL. Scouts have constantly been writing up a troubling work ethic and questionable personal character, whatever that means.
Everyone wants to look at him and interview him because there’s talent which is undeniable. But his behavior and the perception of his seriousness will cost him money and maybe credit from teams, who won’t be as patient with him as they should be. Still, everyone is willing to see how far down he slips. He might not get picked in the first round at all, but it’s hard to see him falling further than mid-second, unless there’s something so wrong with his character that everyone spotted it and were unable to ignore it.