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Will the Redskins believe Nkemdiche’s upside is worth the risk?

Feb 22, 2016, 12:00 PM EDT


Redskins draft countdown

The NFL draft is 66 days away and there is plenty of speculation as to what players Scot McCloughan will select to wear the burgundy and gold. Between now and the draft we’ll look at some of the players who might be of interest to the Redskins and discuss how they might fit in Washington.

Robert Nkemdiche
Defensive end
Ole Miss


Height: 6-4
Weight: 296

What they’re saying

Production was definitely minimal, but Nkemdiche offers plenty of disruption potential. After playing outside early in his career, Nkemdiche looks at his best inside. His natural athleticism is an advantage there, winning around heavy footed offensive linemen off the snap or through weaker opponents.

Josh Norris, Rotoworld

How he fits the Redskins: It’s no secret that the Redskins want to start to rebuild their defensive line. In the past they have done so mostly through free agency; the last defensive lineman they took in the first round was end Kenard Lang in 1997. Scot McCloughan believes that the draft is the lifeblood of the organization and there’s no doubt that he will look to build the defensive line there. This year’s first-round pibk would be a good place to start.

Is Nkemdiche (pronounced kim-DEE-chee) the guy McCloughan wants to be the cornerstone of the line? He certainly has the physical tools to do so. He has the athleticism and quickness of an outside player but the size and toughness to play inside. He received second-team All-American honors from multiple media outlets as both a junior and as a senior.

Potential issues: Although he looks good both getting off of the bus and when he gets in his stance on the line he doesn’t have much to show for it in terms of numbers. Last year as he was earning those All American honors he posted just three sacks and seven tackles for a loss. Those are not the gaudy stats you might want from a top draft pick.

And there is the little matter of the end of his career at Ole Miss. A about 10 days before the Rebels were schedule to play in the Sugar Bowl, Nkemdiche fell out of the window of an Atlanta hotel and suffered mild injuries. That was not a big issue; the marijuana found in the room was a problem. Nkemdiche was arrested for possession and was suspended from the Sugar Bowl. After that he decided to enter the draft.

Bottom line: The on-field numbers won’t make McCloughan pause if he likes what he sees on tape. But the arrest in Atlanta raise questions about how important football is to him.

If the Redskins find Nkemdiche’s on-field talent to be good enough to pursue then they will start looking into his background to see if the incident in Atlanta was an aberration or part of a pattern.

If I had to guess, I’d say that if the Redskins had, say, the No. 10 overall pick they wouldn’t consider Nkemdiche very strongly. There could be better options that have fewer question marks. But if he slides in the draft due to the production stats and the arrest in Atlanta McCloughan could find himself looking at a top-10 talent at pick No. 21. If character concerns are minimal might McCloughan overlook his weak statistical output and make his pick based on Nkemdiche’s high ceiling and can do in the future? We could find out.

Previously in Combine Countdown:

  1. abanig - Feb 22, 2016 at 12:02 PM

    McCloughan has taken risks before.

    • Lex - Feb 22, 2016 at 4:45 PM

      I agree theres about the same risk of injury as anything else however a guy like kevin dodd has better number less red flags..

      • abanig - Feb 22, 2016 at 4:48 PM

        And played against less competition

        • Lex - Feb 23, 2016 at 7:19 PM

          Well alabama is supposed to be the best and he abused their o line plus the ACC is no slouch. I agree with a lot of your posts but dodd is just as good.

        • abanig - Feb 24, 2016 at 3:10 AM

          I think he’s good, I don’t think he is as talented as Nkemdichie.

          Also, unless Dodd has put on weight, Dodd weighs 20 pounds less. Dodd is more a 4-3 DE or 3-4 OLB like Preston Smith than he is an interior player. He could switch to DT or 3-4 DE but he’d have to put on 10-15 pounds and get stronger.

  2. dieselanddarrell - Feb 22, 2016 at 12:12 PM

    Hi, first ever comment. Thanks for all you do, Rich. I am a big Memphis Tigers fan and this guy was a complete no-show for the Ole Miss vs Memphis game. He looked like he couldn’t care less. Maybe he was sick or something, but the performance I saw that day needs to be explained or he belongs down in the lower rounds….

    • Trey Gregory - Feb 23, 2016 at 12:58 AM

      That’s a red flag to me for sure. But I didn’t watch him enough to really make that judgement. I would have to know if that’s an anomaly or a pattern. Also if his lack of production was due to the offensive line focusing on him or him just not playing.

      To be fair, it’s not completely unusual for top defensive players in college to disappear for a few games. If I remember correctly, Preston Smith would take some games off too. It worries me about that pick. But he’s been great for us so far. I don’t like that at all, but it’s hard to deny that some of these guys don’t have much to play for. If you already know you’re going to be drafted, and probably in the first few rounds. If you already feel like you’ve shown what you have to offer and have nothing to gain out of playing hard and risking injury for 0 dollars…. Eh. That’s not what I would do, and it’s not what I like, but it’s semi understandable if it was a business decision and not just laziness. The trick is to be able to figure out which of those it is.

      I was cool with passin on that guy before you said that though. The way that whole balcony situation went down; he also lied to everyone about what happened at first. The whole thing was real shady. No thanks.

  3. firesnyder - Feb 22, 2016 at 12:12 PM

    Marquis Haynes was on the other side at Mississippi and put up insane numbers for a sophmore DE. I don’t see how you can draft Nkemdiche in confidence when other teams had to account for Haynes via double teams, but Nkemdiche still couldn’t put up big numbers. I’m no expert, but something doesn’t make sense here. Am i wrong?

    • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Feb 22, 2016 at 12:50 PM

      No, you’re right. The lack of college production is a concern.

      I’m guessing McGlue wants a sure thing* with his 1st round pick this year, just like last year. I don’t Nkemdiche fits the bill.

      * Nothing is a sure thing, but as close as he can get.

    • alabama9282 - Feb 22, 2016 at 5:22 PM

      I have said this kid was way overrated every since Ole Miss started saying he was double and triple team on every play lol. Then i watched some of their games just not so kid came out of high school as a Dend and was just to slow to chase down SEC Qbs. No way when you look at a kid that started 3 years and had like 80 tackles 6-7 sacks 25 tfl very well stated that the look don`t always equal the production. No way Scoot drafts this kid and for those who this guy is top 10 talent shame on you.

  4. scottmccloughanfan - Feb 22, 2016 at 12:25 PM

    Weed can bring a man down.

    That’s one reason for poor performance with an otherwise exceptional athlete.

    Not sayin’ at all. Don’t know the young man.

    Absolutely sure McCLOUGHAN has already studied the best fifty athletes in detail already however.

    Let’s have faith that SCOTT picks the right guy here.

  5. babyteal1 - Feb 22, 2016 at 2:05 PM


  6. smotion55 - Feb 22, 2016 at 2:13 PM

    I can only hope we pass on this guy. The d-line is very deep – early – in this years draft with hard workers with very good attitudes and no off the field problems, if this guy is their in the 3rd round and we have traded back and got a couple more picks then MAYBE take a flyer on him.. Look what happened to Randy Gregory in Dallas. He has got caught for POT 4 times already and suspended for first 4 games next year. We DON”T Need the Bull S IT.

    • bangkokben - Feb 22, 2016 at 2:32 PM

      Agreed. Fair or not, Randy Gregory was a top ten talent that will miss four games after saying all the right things after the positive test. Can’t see McCloughan taking him at #21. Maybe at #53 but if he falls to #53 then he is equally likely to get suspended for the first four games of 2017.

  7. iudoin - Feb 22, 2016 at 2:28 PM

    I dont understand why he is a potential 1st rounder if he didnt have a good year? Help me out.

    • Rich Tandler - Feb 22, 2016 at 2:36 PM

      Players are drafted based on their potential, not necessarily what they have accomplished (or, in this case, haven’t accomplished) in college.

    • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Feb 22, 2016 at 2:53 PM

      You’ll see at the Combine. He’s big, fast, and strong.

      Joke is that Treadwill dropped out of the 40 yard dash because he’d lose to Nkemdiche.

      But if the guy doesn’t love football, he’s not a McGlue guy (as renhoekk2 says below).

    • Trey Gregory - Feb 23, 2016 at 1:02 AM

      It happens all the time. Especially because the college game doesn’t necessarily translate to the NFL. But some guys get caught up in measurables. It’s why Shawn Oakman will get over drafted. It’s why there’s so many busts every year. Thankfully, I haven’t seen too much evidence that McCloughan is one of those guys. There’s always the chance that he’s done it before and I just didn’t hear about I though. He’s absolutely had a high draft pick or two bust before though.

  8. renhoekk2 - Feb 22, 2016 at 2:40 PM

    Read scouting report that said he was THE #1 DL High School recruit in the country so he came in with a lot of fanfare. The report said he pretty much lived off of his High School reputation and did not do much in terms of production or to improve his game. McCloughan has said he wants guys who LOVE the game of football. I can’t see where a scout would look at his college career and determine that Nkemdiche loves the game.

  9. John - Feb 22, 2016 at 8:54 PM

    Over the last couple of weeks, USA Today, Sports Weekly citing Ourlads NFL Scouting Service has him at #23 out of the top 32. They also have him listed as the 5th best DTackle behind Robinson and Reed of Alabama, Rankins of Louisville and Billings of Baylor. The guy has to many question marks to waste the pick on him.

    They also have the Skins taking Jaylon Smith of Notre Same in the 1st and Keanu Neal of Florida in the 2nd.

    Ezekiel Elliott of Ohio State is ranked #22 and projected to go to the Jets at #20.

    Most of the centers are projected to go in rounds 3 & 4.

    I say go stud running back in round 1, d lineman in round 2 and round 3, center in 3 or 4, wr/db in 5,6 and backup qb in 6 or 7.

    They should find a blocking tight end in rookie free agent pickups. There should also be some developmental wrs as rookie free agent pickups as well.

    Keep an eye out for guys like Noah Spence DE of Eastern KY and Cody Kessler QB at USC as potential Skins picks.

  10. robert herrera - Feb 22, 2016 at 10:22 PM

    Play it safe draft Kenny Clark from ucla. He is a better athlete and no red flags. Come on redskins take a good look at kenny Clark.

    • sidepull - Feb 23, 2016 at 9:16 AM

      yea, Kenny Clark nice UCLA product 6’4 30lbs.

      I like Rankins as well. Depends on weather you want QB pressures or run stuffers.

      I would stay the heck away from Nkemdiche. Archives

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