Robert Nkemdiche has been the talk of Cardinals rookie mini camp, and for exactly the reasons the organisation hoped when they made the risky decision to use their first-round pick on him last month.
According to several reports, Nkemdiche has been so dominant on the defensive line in practices that head coach Bruce Arians has reportedly threatened him with fines in order to get him to dial things back a notch.
That’s a good problem to have!
“He was killing people in walkthrough and I had to slow him down,” Arians joked. “It’s a walkthrough and he’s bench-pressing linemen already.”
“We had to have a little (talk),” Arians added. ” ‘ If I get fined it’s coming out of your check.’ He slowed down all of a sudden.”
Several beat writers took to Twitter to express similarly glowing reports:
DT Robert Nkemdiche has been unblockable considering that he’s getting double teamed, was in the backfield before the QB throws the ball.
— Mike Jurecki (@mikejurecki) May 6, 2016
In a span of three plays, Robert Nkemdiche had a swim move that had the OT grasping for air and then simply blew through the offensive line.
— Josh Weinfuss (@joshweinfuss) May 6, 2016
Nkemdiche’s early dominance is nothing but good news for the Cardinals, who took a first-round gamble a player whose talent and raw athleticism had become wildly (and, it should be noted, understandably) overshadowed by his off-the-field issues while in college.
At Ole Miss, Nkemdiche was involved in a number of alarming incidents; most notably, he injured himself when he fell out of a fourth-floor window after reportedly being black-out drunk and on synthetic marijuana. At pre-draft interviews, Nkemdiche “earned universally awful reviews”, according to ESPN’s Seth Wickersham.
But Nkemdiche’s ability as a football player was never in doubt, making him a sort of archetypal pre-draft risk: talented but with serious baggage.
The Cardinals took the risk on Nkemdiche. If early reports from rookie minicamp are any indication, that risk is already paying off.
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