Robert Nkemdiche NFL Draft 2016: Scouting Report, Grade for Cardinals Rookie

B/R Video@@bleacherreportB/R VideoApril 29, 2016


A former standout defensive end prospect in high school, Robert Nkemdiche was one of a handful of star recruits signing with Ole Miss in the 2013 recruiting class—along with first-round prospects Laremy Tunsil and Laquon Treadwell. A three-year starter for the Rebels, Nkemdiche is the ultimate boom-or-bust prospect.

Blessed with a statuesque build for the position, Nkemdiche is as impressive as they come on the hoof. He has thick, powerful levers and the lower-body strength to run in space and get push in the middle of the field.

He’s incredibly explosive firing out of his stance and has the body control, balance and sheer strength to be a nightmare as a 3-technique rusher. Blockers who manage to get in front of Nkemdiche are met with low pads, a full head of steam and a bull rush that has lifted linemen off the ground.

Nkemdiche is a natural as a pass-rusher. He’s fluid, fast, powerful and uses his hands to create separation like a seasoned veteran. There is an unlimited supply of tools to work with here.

Nkemdiche seemed to elevate his play to his opponents. Watch him against Alabama or Florida and you see a dynamic defender capable of shooting gaps and stacking up blockers at the line of scrimmage. Against legitimate NFL-caliber offensive linemen, Nkemdiche was capable of toying with them.


Nkemdiche has often been in the headlines for the wrong reasons. He was suspended for Ole Miss’ bowl game following the 2015 season after falling out of a fourth-floor hotel room window in Atlanta—a fall that sent him to the hospital and police to his room to find marijuana present. Nkemdiche told the media at the NFL combine that he was only drunk and that the marijuana wasn’t his. He also noted that teammate Tunsil was in the room with him.

Before the legendary fall, Nkemdiche was investigated for assault after a fight at a frat party during his recruitment to Ole Miss. Scouts we’ve talked to are afraid Nkemdiche’s older brothers are a negative influence steering him in the wrong direction.

On the field, Nkemdiche never lived up to the hype. He flashed plays shooting gaps and made big hits in the backfield, but those plays were inconsistent and were more often than not caused by a hard-charging guess through a hole.

Nkemdiche’s instincts and football IQ did not lead to plays. He doesn’t show the gap discipline to make an early impact in a 3-4 defense and may be lower on those boards than that of a 4-3 team.


Height: 6'3"

Weight: 295 lbs.

40 Time: 4.75s

3-Cone: N/A

Short Shuttle: N/A

PRO COMPARISON: Sheldon Richardson, New York Jets
FINAL GRADE: 6.75/9.00 (Round 2—Future Starter)


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.