Former Ole Miss defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche has been drafted by the Cardinals with the 29th overall pick of the draft. Big Rob's draft spot was still very much up in the air before Thursday, but Arizona seems to have taken a flyer on the 6'3, 294 lbs. pass rushing pipebomb.
The standout tackle, and pride of Hugh Freeze's 2013 recruiting class, left the Rebel football program in ignominy, following a December tumble out of an Atlanta hotel room window. Miraculously, Nkemdiche was uninjured by the incident, but police discovered marijuana in his room and promptly charged him with possession of a controlled substance. That resulted in a suspension from the Sugar Bowl, but more significantly, dropped him from a sure-fire top 10 pick to a risk prospect thought to be a fringe first-rounder.
More on Nkemdiche
More on Nkemdiche
In three seasons at Ole Miss, Nkemdiche didn't put up the glitziest numbers, and he's still something of a raw, if explosive, talent: he never recorded more than seven tackles for loss in a season, and he finished his college career with just six sacks. But his physical abilities are just too much to ignore. At nearly 300 pounds of chiseled muscle, he smoked a 4.87 40 at the NFL Combine and has the lightening quick first step of a man 40 pounds lighter. Having started his Ole Miss career as a defensive end before moving inside, he's capable of playing either a five-technique in a 3-4 or an under tackle in a 4-3.
More so than the fall in Atlanta, Big Rob's eccentric personality and dubious family ties made straight-laced pro scouts fidget. SB Nation's Steven Godfrey recently explored the complicated relationship between Nkemdiche and his older brother Denzel, who was booted off the Ole Miss team last season amid rumors of drug overdoses.
"This is where everyone is concerned. This is why you'll talk about the effort or the headband stuff, because of his brothers. If you take away the brothers it's a completely different conversation," one scout told Godfrey.
And guess who's fired up?