The countdown to the 2016 NFL draft is ramping up, with the first round just 25 days away.
As usual, the SEC is expected to have the most draft picks of any league; the SEC had 54 players selected last year, giving the league the most draftees for the ninth year in a row.
With all that as a backdrop, GN is going to look a bit more into the SEC players expected to go in this draft. We have a 20-question, 20-day "SEC Draft Winds" project, whereby we have polled our contributors and asked a specific question about a high-profile SEC player in this draft.
Would you take Ole Miss DT Robert Nkemdiche in the first round?
Brady Ackerman: I watched Nkemdiche work out and NFL scouts will be drooling over his athleticism. But I would not take him in the first round because the production hadn't matched the talent. If I can steal him in the second round, I might get a hungry, motivated Nkemdiche. The other issue is where to play him. I think he's a 4-3 guy and would love to see him on the edge. I think some would put him at tackle in a 3-4.
Heath Cline: The physical talent is great, but too many red flags to make it worth the trouble. Look at the Cowboys drafting Randy Gregory last season. Spent a second-rounder, got zero sacks and already he's suspended for the first four games of this season. Especially in the first round, I'll pass on Nkemdiche.
Dan Hancock: He was so well received and respected as a freshman, really he only had one way to go. I wouldn't say Nkemdiche's play ever was subpar, but he's spent his entire college career trying to live up to expectations that he was going to be the number one defensive lineman in the country. In the NFL, that expectation will be magnified by 1,000. I think he has the tools to be a first-round pick and a dominant player in the NFL. I would, however, be surprised if he's taken in the top half of this year's first round.
Mike Huguenin: No. He has immense gifts, but I would bypass him in the first round. And even if he hits big – and he could – I wouldn't second-guess myself one iota. He's not worth the risk. Fairly or not, he strikes me as a diva, the type of player who will cause issues even if he's a standout.
Leslie Koerdt: Depending upon who's left on the board, it would be hard to take Nkemdiche just on potential.
David Levin: The draft's two biggest question marks are Noah Spence and Nkemdiche. Both should be taken in the first round. But after the combine and his answering the media, Nkemdiche may have talked his way out of the first round. He is this year's Randy Gregory, and I would not take him in the first round.
Dan Mathews: Nkemdiche had an awesome pro day workout. But that never has been the problem for him. It has been the lack of production. I think teams such as Seattle or Arizona would be hard-pressed to bypass him if he's there when they pick in the first round. So, yes, I would take him in the first round.
David McKinney: Nkemdiche is an elite athlete, and has a chance to make a splash in the league. His numbers at Ole Miss weren't eye-popping, but stats aren't everything. I believe Nkemdiche is a first-round talent.
Matt Moscona: One mistake as a 21-year-old will cost Nkemdiche top-10 money and will net an NFL defense a steal late in Round One. I would take him without reservation, although I would take Joey Bosa as the first defensive lineman. Nkemdiche is athletic enough to rush the passer and physical enough to stop the run on the interior. It will be up to whichever team drafts him to surround Nkemdiche with veteran leaders like the Cardinals did with Tyrann Mathieu. Still, the potential reward with a player like Nkemdiche far outweighs the risk. We've seen this before with guys like Warren Sapp and Randy Moss.
Seth Stokes: No. He has bust written all over him. If rumors of his lack of football desire are true, then you could end up with huge problem. Also, there is baggage with Nkemdiche. Is he talented? No doubt about it. Will his performance outweigh the risks? I can't say that it will. He could be a very expensive mistake in the first round.
Jake Wimberly: There isn't a better pure talent at defensive tackle in the 2016 cycle, but Nkemdiche has a lot of baggage. This is a deep class when talking about defensive linemen, and I would pass on Nkemdiche in the first round.
(Feature photo COURTESY ELLEN O'NAN/OLE MISS ATHLETICS)
© 2016, GridironNow.com Staff. All rights reserved.
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