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2016 NFL Draft: Can the Giants afford to take a chance on Robert Nkemdiche?

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Ole Miss' Robert Nkemdiche has elite athletic ability, but is his potential worth the risk?

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL scouting combine can be hugely important for a number of players. Some depend on impressing scouts with their workouts and performance in drills. For some, like Jaylon Smith, the medical exams could be crucial to his career.

For players like Ole Miss' Robert Nkemdiche, the team interviews could decide where he goes in the draft. Once regarded as one of the premier "Blue Chip" prospects in the 2016 draft, is Nkemdiche worth the risk?

Measurables

Pros

  • Extraordinarily rare athletic skill set. Tremendously explosive and agile for a player his size. Reportedly carries roughly 300 pounds at 10 percent body fat.
  • Very disruptive interior rusher and can win with speed or power.
  • Fantastic first step, often the first defender moving off the snap.
  • Great power, can bull single blocker back into the pocket.
  • Fluid movement skills let him change direction easily.

Cons

  • Well-known incident regarding synthetic marijuana and a fall off a balcony
  • Not productive on the field. Too often fails to finish plays despite disruption
  • Technically raw. Relies on his physical tools to overwhelm blockers, but doesn't show many pass rushing moves or strategies.
  • Scouts have questions regarding his desire and work ethic.

Prospect Video

Big Board Rankings

Big Blue View - 17th

Mocking The Draft - 13th

CBS - 18th

Draft Tek - 16th

Does He Fit With the Giants?

The question regarding Nkemdiche isn't so much whether or not he fits the Giants -- Nkemdiche can find a home in any defense -- but whether or not the Giants can take the risk.

Johnathan Hankins is quietly one of the best defensive tackles in the league, one of the few who can stop the run and rush the passer at a Top-10 level. Next to him, a player with Nkemdiche's physical skills could be a monster. Physically, he somewhat resembles past high first round picks like Jason Pierre-Paul and Ereck Flowers: Elite physical tools and All-Pro potential, just waiting to be harnessed.

However, unlike those players, Nkemdiche comes with some troubling off-field questions that need to be answered. Is he willing to put in the work to turn potential into production? Is he a character risk or is he a young man who made a bad choice?

The answers to those questions will decide whether or not he fits with the Giants.

Final Thoughts

It's difficult to find parallels for Nkemdiche.

Physically, he's similar to Ndamukong Suh, Muhammad Wilkerson, Fletcher Cox, Sheldon Richardson, and Leonard Williams. A long, (annoyingly) lean 3-technique who can dominate with power and explosion. And even among those phenoms, Nkemdiche's athletic ability might even stand apart.

Athletically, he is among the top five, even top three prospects in the draft. However, the questions surrounding him are significant. He will have to do a lot of work to repair his image. Showing up to the combine as the athletic freak of nature (and I mean that in the kindest possible way) we know him to be is only the first step. He will need to impress teams in meetings and hope the in-depth background checks that are doubtlessly being done as I write this come back positively.