Many believe that the weird incident Robert Nkemdiche was involved with prior to the Sugar Bowl will cost him dearly in the upcoming NFL draft, but two teams selecting early; the Dallas Cowboys and San Diego Chargers, are very interested in the defensive tackle.
Maybe the most hyped recruit in Ole Miss history, Nkemdiche has a strong Freshman year with the Rebels followed by two good seasons that followed, helping Ole Miss field one of the best defenses in the SEC on a consistent basis. He finished his three seasons in Oxford with six sacks in 29 games including 16 tackles for a loss, deciding that three years in college is enough. The Rebels also used him on offense last season, resulting in two rushing touchdowns and one receiving touchdown.
What looked like an automatic top 5 pick now seems to be a little bit blurry, with some mock drafts placing him in the 10-to-15 area, which isn’t terrible, but talent-wise Nkemdiche seems to be just below Joey Bosa and Jalen Ramsey. Another Ole Miss player, offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil, also seems to be favorite to go early, maybe even in the top 3. Nkemdiche fell from a fourth-floor window, which resulted in police arriving on the scene. He was taken to a hospital and wasn’t banded up in way that’ll hurt his draft stock, but the marijuana cigarettes found in his room and being charged with drug possession is what will hurt his draft stock, unless NFL teams are convinced he’s not an off-the-field risk.
One team that’s never afraid of off-the-field or on-the-field risks are the Dallas Cowboys, coming off what many would call a wasted season due to the absence of Tony Romo from most of it, turning them into the worst team in the NFC East after winning the division in 2014. With the offensive line set, Nkemdiche should be available when they select fourth overall, unless the Chargers (third overall) get him first.
Nkemdiche is quick enough, despite his size, to play as a defensive end, even in a 4-3 system. He’s one of the more impressive defensive players in the upcoming draft, but there’s a sense that his personality and his ability to show maturity and possibly some remorse over his incident in December 2015, which cost him playing in the Sugar Bowl, will determine if he still gets selected early, or drops a dozen places or so.