Between now and the NFL Draft the Redskins will be connected with many names, but few will bring as many questions as Ole Miss defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche. The former No. 1 college football recruit in the country, Nkemdiche was suspended for the Rebels bowl game after being charged with marijuana possession in an Atlanta hotel room.
The story is more bizarre though than just a college kid being busted for pot. Reports show Nkemdiche fell 15 feet from an Atlanta hotel room after breaking a window prior to his charge. Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze said that while the payer deserved the suspension for what would have been his final college football game, Nkemdiche was a huge part of the renaissance of the Rebels program.
Following his suspension, Nkemdiche issued a statement apologizing for the incident and declared for the draft. In his three years at Mississippi, Nkemdiche registered six sacks and 16 tackles for loss. The numbers aren't astounding, but the attention Nkemdiche commanded on the defensive line allowed the Rebels "Land Shark" defense to soar.
Physically Nkemdiche is a beast; he stands 6'4" and weighs nearly 300 lbs. Widely expected to be a Top 10 pick in the draft, his bizarre brush with the law in Atlanta may cause him to fall in the draft, and with the Redskins picking at No. 21, Rotoworld's Josh Norris sees a fit. From Norris' Mock Draft:
Jason Hatcher is a pivotal piece of Washington’s front seven. He turns 34 in July. Yes, Nkemdiche will be a talking point throughout the process, and the NFL will have far more information than the public, just like with every prospect. Nkemdiche has displayed uncommon explosion and power from a variety of alignments.
What makes Norris' prediction even more interesting is that Hatcher talked of retirement after the Redskins loss to the Packers in the Wild Card round. Washington GM Scot McCloughan, as well as coach Jay Gruden and team president Bruce Allen, have stressed character in their personnel assessments, and it's unknown what impact the Atlanta incident will have on Nkemdiche's draft status. It's also worth noting the 'Skins brought in Junior Galette after character questions popped up last summer.
Again, the draft is months away and many, many names will be connected to Washington at 21. But Nkemdiche certainly is an interesting one. His talent, size and speed would likely land him in the Top 10, but if he falls, perhaps he doesn't get past 21.