Alabama Football: How Nick Saban Will Quell Robert Nkemdiche's Concerns
Like everyone else in the nation, Nick Saban is just dying to get Robert Nkemdiche's services. Nkemdiche, however, has expressed some concerns regarding what system he plays in. Saban will do his best to eliminate any and all trepidation.
Bleacher Report's lead SEC blogger, Barrett Sallee, has done an outstanding job keeping us fans and readers posted on Nkemdiche, including the video piece "B/R Full Ride: One-on-One with the Nation's Top Prospect Robert Nkemdiche."
After keeping up with Sallee's efforts regarding Nkemdiche, I feel that Saban has a solid plan to alleviate any and all concerns the 5-star prospect has.
Here are some of the things I'm sure Saban will have to say to him.
Don't Compare Yourself to Courtney Upshaw
- Upshaw was a long-term project that didn't see significant playing time until his junior year.
- Upshaw's junior year was bogged down by nagging injuries, leaving only his senior year to really prove himself.
- Nkemdiche is starting from a better situation as the top prospect in the nation. Upshaw was only a 4-star prospect and the 18th best in the nation at his position.
- The questions about Upshaw were figments of the scouts' imaginations, as Upshaw proved he could perform typical linebacker duties as well as line up on either side of the defensive line.
Courtney Upshaw was unanimously predicted to be taken in the first round of the 2012 NFL draft.
After a tumultuous first night, however, Upshaw's name was not called, and the Baltimore Ravens took what will likely be the biggest steal of the 2012 NFL draft.
Nkemdiche expressed some concerns about this in the B/R Full Ride video, as he recognized that many NFL teams were not sure if Upshaw was a defensive end or a linebacker.
Here is why Nkemdiche should not compare himself to Upshaw.
Clearly Nkemdiche's goal is the NFL, but the fact that he is even a bit concerned about where Courtney Upshaw found himself in the NFL draft is a bit silly.
Nkemdiche should not compare himself to Upshaw, and Nick Saban will make that clear.
Don't Underestimate the Marketability of Versatility
For a perfect example of the marketing value of versatility, Robert Nkemdiche needs to look no further than Alabama's Barrett Jones.
Jones' versatility and ability to play anywhere on his line are unrivaled, and scouts recognize this.
Jones is an offensive lineman, but it's not apples and oranges, people. It's about being able to play multiple positions.
The NFL is a league of both 4-3 defenses and 3-4 defenses, pure defensive ends, Jack linebackers and defensive ends that can do it all.
Does Nkemdiche want to be a pure defensive end, or does he want to be versatile?
If he wants to be a pure defensive end, he will have half the league knocking at his door. If he wants to have everyone breaking his door down, he should be willing to play multiple positions.
Is it better to stick to one single position on the defensive line, or is it better to prove your worth in every aspect of the team's defensive box?
Nick Saban will make it clear that versatility is king when your goal is the NFL.
You Can Make Your Money as a Defensive End
For some reason, Robert Nkemdiche thinks that his future lies in playing as a 3-4 Jack linebacker or a 4-3 defensive end, as he stated in the B/R Full Ride video.
It couldn't be further from the truth.
Alabama has not had a significant pass-rushing threat at defense end since Marcell Dareus left the house, but that doesn't mean they won't exploit the abilities of one.
At 6'4", 268 lbs., Nkemdiche is more than capable of playing defensive end in a 3-4 base defense, especially with his already ridiculous swim-move.
It's not a bad idea. He may not rack up double-digit sacks every season, but with a stout Jack linebacker on the opposite side, there will be a lot of chances to make big plays playing as a left defensive end.
Dareus was predicted by almost every pundit to be the second player taken in the 2011 NFL draft, but fell to the third pick when the Denver Broncos made a curious choice with linebacker Von Miller (a choice that proved to be smarter than anyone predicted).
If Nkemdiche thinks he can't make a name for himself as a defensive end in a 3-4 defense, Nick Saban will convince him otherwise.
You Can Be a Three-and-out
If Robert Nkemdiche's goal is the NFL then Alabama can provide that for him.
A few schools on his short list, including LSU, could provide this, but 'Bama can do it as well as anyone in the country.
The Tide did it with Marcell Dareus and Courtney Upshaw, but neither of those had the talent and potential combination of Nkemdiche.
If Nick Saban can turn those two (who started as incredibly raw prospects) into stars, what could he do with a recruit that already has a flawless game?
Saban is more than willing to part early with standout players. He even supports it.
If Nkemdiche wants to head to the NFL after his junior year, Nick Saban will do everything in his power to make it happen. Alabama's success in this scenario is directly tied to that of Nkemdiche's.
You want a three-and-out? Saban can make it happen if you are willing to commit to his system and play your part.
You Can Win a Championship
Despite controversy and critics, the Alabama Crimson Tide has won two national championships in only three years.
They were also inches away from playing for one in 2008, and a few plays away (Auburn and LSU) from playing for one in 2011.
Championships happened at Alabama in the past, and they will happen in the future.
In the modern era of college football, Nick Saban is the best in the business when it comes to bringing home the crystal football.
The national championship isn't just bragging rights, but a big ass bullet on a resume when heading to the NFL.
When a national champion defensive player from Alabama transitions to the NFL, he gets a lot of attention.
To Robert Nkemdiche:
If you want to make it to the NFL, come to Alabama and win a championship.