Robert Nkemdiche was a five-star recruit from Grason HS in Loganville, Georgia. Rivals ranked him as the number one strongside defensive end and number one overall prospect in the 2013 HS Class. He verbally committed to play for Clemson in November 2012, but decommitted and chose Ole Miss to play with his brother Denzel Nkemdiche. He enters the 2016 NFL Draft as one of the top defensive lineman prospects.
||September 19, 1994
||Bench (225 lbs)
||20 Yard Shuttle
||3 Cone Drill
|40 Yard Dash (10 yd split)
||4.87 sec (1.68 sec)
||60 Yard Shuttle
Stats and Awards
|University of Mississippi (2013-2015)
|2015 – 29 tackles (7.0 for loss), 3.0 sacks, 2 PDs
||All-American Second Team, All-SEC First Team
|2014 – 35 tackles (4.0 for loss), 2.0 sacks, 1 PD
||All-American Second Team, All-SEC First Team
|2013 – 34 tackles (8.0 for loss), 2.0 sacks, 2 PDs
||First Team Freshman All-American, SEC All-Freshman
- Fantastic physical specimen with muscle up and down body. Straight legged runner, that is not good at turning corner quickly.
- Poor awareness at times.
- Inconsistent pad height: Can play too tall/straight up losing leverage
- Versatility on defensive line at Ole Miss: 1-tech 3-tech, 5-tech, 7/9-tech. Best fit at 3-tech in Pros.
- Mainly lined up in 3pt or 4pt stance
- Fantastic burst off line of scrimmage anticipating snap. Penalized multiple times for offsides on hard count for trying to jump early.
- Gets hands up to swat passes consistently
- Fights through single blocks, but seems content being blocked against double teams, though.
- Lightning first step
- Susceptible to cut blocks, needs to use hands better
- Perfect for 1-gap responsibility
- Active hands to fight away blockers reach
- Consistently dealt with specific game planning: double-teams/certain runs to get him out of position.
- Used as running back in goal line situation versus Alabama
- Variety of different pass rush moves stringing them back-to-back with a very effective spin-move when against single blockers.
- Best pass rushing with power press-lockout bullrush combined with an effective bulljerk.
- Inconsistent at stack and shedding blocks in run defense.
- Seems like he’s protecting himself, evidenced by gangtackles in 2014, lack of gangtackles in 2015.
- Should not be use as looper in stunts. Doesn’t run them with any urgency and runs them way too wide to attack other section of the offensive line effectively.
- Ball awareness is lacking. Loses focus of ball while he’s executing his pass rush moves, also puts head upon initial contact at times during run defense which puts him out of position
- Statistical production is very low for a top tier pass rusher. Teams would design plays attacking him directly, but still needs to finish sacks.
- Turns shoulder at POA against the run which washes him out of the play. Typically attempts to spin out of it which puts him out-of-position.
- Gets stood up versus double teams, occasionally play watches.
- Generates a lot of power pressing/locking out his arms in bullrush using his quick first step
- Needs better hand technique. It’s extremely inconsistent.
- Phenomenal game against Alabama. Burst absolutely destroyed interior blocking
- Drug issues: Charged with marijuana possession after falling from the fourth floor window of his hotel room.
The first thing you will notice about Nkemdiche is that his burst off the line of scrimmage is fantastic. Especially, when he anticipates the snap correctly. He consistently dominated opposing blockers by being a full step ahead of them within 1 second off the snap. This burst allowed him to penetrate through his gap and show why he’s a perfect fit for any attacking 1-gap defensive front.
A blessing and a curse, the hard count was and will be used against him relentlessly to try to draw him offsides as it was here against Mississippi State.
One thing that will hurt him in the NFL is his lack of awareness at times. He is so focused at getting up the field, that he doesn’t even read the run correctly coming directly at him. This has to be fixed in the pros or coaches will never trust unless they put him in pass rushing situations only.
At Ole Miss, the defensive coordinator Dave Wommack used a ton of stunts with his defensive lineman. Nkemdiche, in particular, was used a looper for a large percentage of those plays. This in my opinion is a mistake for several reasons.
First, Nkemdiche’s burst off the snap is his greatest gift. As the looper in these stunts, this completely nullifies it. Secondly, and more importantly, Nkemdiche runs them way too far wide and since his cornering ability isn’t the best already he can’t attack the opposite side of the line of scrimmage with any effectiveness.
In the NFL, if coaches want to use the tackle-end stunt like the Cowboys, then Nkemdiche should always be the penetrator from as opposed to the looper.
Overall, Nkemdiche is a long-legged runner with tight hips who struggles at turning the corner effectively which is why his best fit is at 3-tech in a 1-gap system. He simply does not have flexible enough hips to turn the corner.
In this play, Nkemdiche side steps to try to turn on the spot as opposed to dropping his hips and bending at the waist. Some may argue that he was following the wrong player, the WR on the end-around, but I’d argue that based on his helmet movement he actually was following the correct player, but couldn’t turn in time to capitalize.
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