While Robert Nkemdiche has some off-the-field questions heading into the NFL Draft, one can't help but be intrigued by what the defensive end brings to the table on the field.*
One team. One chance.
That's all Robert Nkemdiche wants.
Heading into this week's 2016 NFL Draft, much of the talk surrounding Nkemdiche has been about some off-the-field questions, though the standout defensive lineman maintains he's more than happy to ease any team's worries about his past.
"I've just got to wait and see," Nkemdiche told reporters at the NFL Combine when asked if he was concerned that he would slide in the draft. "I'm doing everything I can to make teams believe me and believe the person I truly am."
On the field, Nkemdiche — at 6 foot 3, 294 pounds — has everything an NFL team could ever want from the defensive end or defensive tackle positions. He was the top defensive end prospect in the country out of high school, and instantly lived up to expectations at Ole Miss, garnering Freshman All-American honors with eight tackles for loss, including two sacks.
Over the next couple seasons, Nkemdiche would continue to impress, earning Second Team All-American honors both years and combining for 11 tackles for loss and five sacks.
His NFL.com draft profile says he has "plus movement skills and runs like a defensive end," and is especially stout in the run game as a "wrap-up finisher who won't allow running backs out of his grasp," but has gotten noticeably better in his pass rush, too.
"Plays with good lateral quickness and can win the race across the face of blockers," the profile continues. "Showed noticeable improvement as pass rusher this season. Has a decent spin move as pass rusher and plays with the power to force his way through a guard's shoulder and into the backfield."
Nkemdiche listed several attributes when asked what sets him apart on the football field.
"My skill set, my explosiveness, my football IQ," he said. "My growth as a player, my commitment to the team and wanting to keep getting better as a player."
Check out images of defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche during his collegiate career at Ole Miss.
Nkemdiche didn't end his Ole Miss career on the highest of notes, however, as he was suspended from the team's bowl game after his arrest on marijuana charges after an incident in Atlanta in which he reportedly fell from his hotel room.
Nkemdiche said alcohol played a major factor in that incident, and though he was formally handed a marijuana-related charge, he maintains since nobody in the room "wanted to take the fall … it had to go under my name."
"I made a mistake as a 21-year-old," Nkemdiche said about what he tells teams about the incident. "I've just got to keep moving forward and hopefully they believe me and I can do what I have to do on Sunday to make them see my athleticism. Hopefully I will go as high as possible."
Again, it comes down to one team giving Nkemdiche a chance to prove he can handle playing as a professional in the NFL — not just on the field, but off of it, as well.
He feels he's up to the challenge.
"I have changed," Nkemdiche said. "I've lazered my focus to what's important and kept away from things that can take football away from me and jeopardize my career because I love the game so much. I never want it to be taken away from me, and I know if I'm in situations like that it can be taken away from me. I've just cleaned up a little bit."