Robert Nkemdiche: Analyzing What No. 1 Prospect Means to Ole Miss Defense

Matt FitzgeraldCorrespondent IIIFebruary 6, 2013

Feb 6, 2013; Loganville, GA, USA; Robert Nkemdiche is interviewed after he  announced his decision to attend Mississippi on National Signing Day at Grayson High School. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Robert Nkemdiche is the consensus No. 1 overall prospect in the nation, and made his official commitment to play college football at Ole Miss on Wednesday morning.

But what does the Rebels' acquisition of the Grayson High School (Loganville, Ga.) star mean for the immediate future?

Any recruit of Nkemdiche's caliber is bound to instantly improve a defense, but it is the versatility and eye-popping skill set that he brings to the table that sets him apart from other top players in recent memory.

To already weigh 285 pounds and fill out a frame of 6'4" at age 18 is kind of ridiculous (h/t It speaks to the natural physical gifts that Nkemdiche possesses while also indicating how hard he has worked to get his body to that point.

Having already filled out so nicely, it won't be as much of a problem for Nkemdiche to adjust to the physically grueling SEC schedule. What becomes important is his conditioning, and considering his 4.65 speed in the 40-yard dash, that shouldn't be much of a problem.

Nkemdiche has a relentless motor, sideline-to-sideline range and the ability to chase down mobile quarterbacks and the power to tackle the massive running backs he will face in the SEC.

Not to mention, that lateral quickness and speed allows him to drop back into coverage, making him a sort of Swiss army knife defensive dynamo.

Pac-12 digital senior correspondent Bryan Fischer gave Nkemdiche gaudy praise, comparing him to South Carolina star Jadeveon Clowney and lauding the incoming freshman's work ethic:

Dave Wommack is the Rebels' defensive coordinator, and implements a 4-3 scheme that was one of the better units at stopping the run in the country last season.

In fact, it was in large thanks to the play of Denzel Nkemdiche, Robert's brother, who will be a redshirt sophomore (h/t AP). He is a significant reason why Robert made the decision to play for head coach Hugh Freeze in Oxford.

Whether Robert Nkemdiche starts alongside his brother at linebacker remains to be seen, but placing him as a pass-rushing specialist in the 4-3 seems more likely.

The Rebels struggled in the secondary in 2012, finishing just 80th in the country against the pass. Nkemdiche's quickness and power are assets, and he already shows an impressive range of moves to gain leverage to rapidly collapse the pocket.

Should the coaches want him to pack on an extra 10 or 15 pounds, though, there is no question that Nkemdiche could be a force on the interior of the defensive line.

Players simply aren't built like Nkemdiche very often, and Wommack has the flexibility to play him pretty much anywhere in the defensive front seven. That is how significant Nkemdiche is to the Ole Miss defense—and his impact alone should translate to the Rebels being a major factor in the SEC West in 2013.