Nkemdiche is perhaps the ultimate battle of perception and potential versus reality. Athletically, there hasn’t been a physical specimen like the defensive tackle from Ole Miss since Ndamukong Suh. He’s among the biggest/strongest/fastest linemen in any recent draft class.
Just as he was once the top prep recruit, Nkemdiche is once again highly touted because of what glorious potential his physical package presents. However, his college career didn’t exactly pan out as many expected. In 35 career games, the Atlanta-area native racked up 7 sacks and 19 tackles for loss. Just 11 of those TFL’s came in 23 career SEC games.
That is scant production, relatively speaking. While he did face double teams more often than not, Nkemdiche seldom demonstrated he knew how to translate his considerable potential into real football productivity.
Sure, there are the teases. Take this play against Alabama…
It makes you wonder why plays like this only happen about once every two games.
Then there’s the off-field issues. Nkemdiche was suspended for Ole Miss’ bowl game after being arrested for a bizarre incident in an Atlanta hotel. High on synthetic marijuana, he had a paranoid delusion and jumped out of a fourth-floor window. This wasn’t his first drug rodeo either…
His older brother Denzel, a linebacker with the Rebels, has been nothing but trouble. NFL scouts have expressed myriad concerns with the family and associates.
Between the unsavory off-field and underwhelming results on it, the Lions need to pass on Nkemdiche in the first round. He might become a great NFL player. Let someone else hope the five numbers and powerball all match on that lottery ticket.
Next: Leonte Carroo