Robert Nkemdiche

Robert Nkemdiche
No. 90Arizona Cardinals
Position: Defensive tackle
Personal information
Date of birth: (1994-09-19) September 19, 1994
Place of birth: Atlanta, Georgia
Height: 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Weight: 296 lb (134 kg)
Career information
High school: Loganville (GA) Grayson
College: Mississippi
NFL Draft: 2016 / Round: 1 / Pick: 29
Career history
Roster status: Active
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics as of Week 10, 2016
Total tackles: 1
Sacks: 0.0
Passes Defended: 1
Forced fumbles: 0
Interceptions: 0
Player stats at
Player stats at PFR

Robert Nkemdiche (/nkɪmˈdɛ/ n-kem-DEE-chay;[1] born September 19, 1994) is an American football defensive tackle for the Arizona Cardinals of the National Football League (NFL). He attended the University of Mississippi for three years until declaring early for the 2016 NFL draft where he was picked 29th overall by the Arizona Cardinals.

Regarded by ESPN as the "Southeast's best [high school football] prospect since the early 1980s,"[2] Nkemdiche was the highest touted prospect committing to the Ole Miss Rebels since Eli Manning in 1999.[3]

High school career

A native of Loganville, Georgia, Nkemdiche attended Grayson High School, where he was a three-sport athlete in football, basketball and track. He played as a defensive end and running back for the Grayson Rams high school football team. In his junior season, he registered 59 tackles and 18 sacks on defense while also running for 528 yards and scoring 17 touchdowns on offense. Grayson went undefeated throughout the season, finishing 15–0 with a GHSA 6A state title win over Marietta Walton.[4] In his senior year, Nkemdiche registered 59 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and seven sacks on defense, whilst on offense he had 235 total rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. Early in the season Grayson defeated Dalvin Cook's Miami (FL) Central 35–3 in a game that was nationally televised on ESPN.[5] The Rams went on to a 10–2 season record, and were upset by Mitch Hyatt's North Gwinnett in the second round of the GHSA 6A state playoffs.[6] Nkemdiche was the Gwinnett Daily Post Defensive Player of the Year. He finished his career at Grayson with 41 career sacks. He was named first-team All-American as a junior by MaxPreps, as well as second-team as a senior.[7][8]

Nkemdiche also competed in track & field during his junior season. At the 2011 Gwinnett County T&F Championship, he earned second-place finishes in both the shot put, with a throw of 13.41 meters (43 ft, 8 in), and the discus, with a throw of 37.98 meters (124 ft, 5 in).[9] In addition, he also had marks of a 350-pound max bench press, 335-pound power clean, 500-pound squat and a 4.56-second 40-yard dash time.[10]


Regarded as a five-star recruit by both and, Nkemdiche was not only considered the No. 1 defensive line prospect of his class, but also the consensus No. 1 player overall.[11] He was only the fourth player since 2002 to be the consensus No. 1 prospect, along with Jadeveon Clowney, Vince Young, and Ernie Sims. Nkemdiche went wire-to-wire as the No. 1 overall player in the Top100, also the first since Clowney.

Robert and his older brother Denzel originally planned attending college together.[12] After Denzel Nkemdiche signed with Ole Miss, Robert was believed to follow. However, he instead committed to Clemson on June 14, 2012.[13] In October 2012, ESPN The Magazine reported that Nkemdiche was not firm on his non-binding verbal commitment, and was still considering other schools, including Ole Miss.[14] Consequently, Nkemdiche decommitted from Clemson in November 2012, re-considering a number of schools including Clemson, Ole Miss, Alabama, and Georgia.[15] By January 2013, he narrowed his list down to just Ole Miss and Louisiana State.[16]

Giving her opinion on their sons' college selection, Nkemdiche's mother said she would "love for them to play together, as well as have the power of two."[17] That way, she would not have to worry about going to different games—taking pressure off of her shoulders. Also, on top of the family tie to Ole Miss, Nkemdiche was said to have a close relationship with the head coach of the Ole Miss football team, Hugh Freeze.[17] In November 2012, Denzel Nkemdiche told reporters that Robert personally told him that he was going to commit to Ole Miss.[18] Robert Nkemdiche indeed committed to Ole Miss on National Signing Day.[3]

College career

One of the most highly touted recruits in the program's history,[3] Nkemdiche arrived at Ole Miss with plenty of hype, being named SEC’s Top Impact Freshman by Sporting News before the season.[19] He played in 11 games with 10 starts (six at defensive end, four at defensive tackle), and amassed 34 tackles (25 solo), 2.0 sacks, two pass breakups and three quarterback hurries on the season. Nkemdiche made his college debut against Vanderbilt, posting two tackles with a TFL and a pass break-up.[20] He missed the Louisiana State and Idaho games with a strained hamstring.[21] After the season, Nkemdiche was named Freshman All-SEC by the league's coaches, and First team Freshman All-American by Athlon and College Football News. As a sophomore, Nkemdiche started every game at defensive tackle on an Ole Miss defensive line that led the nation in scoring defense (16.0 ppg) and lead the SEC in tackles for loss (7.6/game). Nkemdiche himself contributed 35 tackles with 4.0 TFLs, 2.0 sacks and a pass breakup on the season. His best game was against in-state rival Mississippi State, in which he was credited for a career-high seven tackles (three solo) and one tackle-for-a-loss. Nkemdiche was a semifinalist for the Lombardi Award and was named All-SEC first team by Associated Press (AP), as well as All-America second team by AP, Sporting News, USA Today, and CBS Sports.

After an incident involving marijuana (see below) in December 2015, Nkemdiche was suspended for the 2016 Sugar Bowl.[22] He announced his intention to enter the 2016 NFL Draft.

Professional career

Pre-draft measurables
Ht Wt 40-yd dash 10-yd split 20-yd split 20-ss 3-cone Vert Broad BP
6 ft 3 14 in 296 lb 4.87 s 1.67 s 2.84 s 35 in 9 ft 8 in 28 reps
All values from NFL Combine.[23][24]

On April 28, 2016, the Arizona Cardinals selected Nkemdiche with the 29th overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft.[25]


Nkemdiche was born in Atlanta, Georgia to Nigerian immigrants Beverly and Sunday Nkemdiche. His father, a cardiologist, has reportedly applied for a researcher position at University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi.[26] Nkemdiche's mother, a politician, returned to Nigeria in 2009 and as of September 2011 represents Onitsha South in the Anambra State House of Assembly.[27] His older brother Denzel Nkemdiche plays linebacker for Ole Miss.[28]

On December 12, 2015, Nkemdiche fell from a fourth-floor window of the Grand Hyatt Atlanta in Buckhead. “It appears that the victim (Nkemdiche) broke the window and then walked approximately 15 feet and climbed over a wall and fell approximately 15 feet,” read the Atlanta Police Department report.[29] Nkemdiche was conscious and in stable condition when officers reported to the scene, and was immediately transported to Grady Memorial Hospital. Police later found seven marijuana cigarettes in Nkemdiche's room, leading him to be charged with drug possession.[30]


  1. Mahoney, Jon. (August 15, 2011) Get Familiar: Robert Nkemdiche – ESPNHS Football – ESPNHS. Retrieved on 2012-09-04.
  2. Schlabach, Mark (February 3, 2012). "Prep prospect draws star comparisons".
  3. 1 2 3 "Robert Nkemdiche commits to Mississippi Rebears on national signing day". February 6, 2013.
  4. "No. 6 Grayson leaves no doubt". MaxPreps. December 10, 2011.
  5. "No. 2 Grayson routs Miami Central 35-3". MaxPreps. August 31, 2012.
  6. "North takes down defending state champ Grayson 28–10". Gwinnett Daily Post. November 23, 2012.
  7. Stephen Spiewak (2013-01-09). "2012 All-American Football Team". MaxPreps. Retrieved 2013-07-22.
  8. Stephen Spiewak (2012-01-03). "2011 U.S. Air Force Junior All-American Football Teams". MaxPreps. Retrieved 2013-07-22.
  9. "Gwinnett County Track & Field Championships - Track & Field Meet".
  10. Jonathan Tjarks (7 February 2012). "Robert Nkemdiche: The Southeast's Best College Prospect In 30 Years, Recruiters Say". SB Nation Atlanta. Vox Media.
  11. "Robert Nkemdiche: Consensus No. 1 from start to finish".
  12. Towers, Chip (November 23, 2010). "Ten@10: Justin Scott-Wesley's commitment to UGA shaky". Atlanta Journal Constitution. After Grayson knocked off No. 2-ranked North Gwinnett 23–19 this past Friday, the Nkemdiche brothers made it clear it is their intention to play together in college. ‘Oh, yeah, we’re going together,’ said Denzel, with Robert standing beside him. ‘Yes, sir, it’s a done deal.’
  13. Fischer, Bryan (June 14, 2012). "Nation's top recruit Robert Nkemdiche commits to Clemson". CBS Sports.
  14. "Robert Nkemdiche torn between families".
  15. "Robert Nkemdiche says decision to decommit from Clemson Tigers his own - ESPN". 2012-11-13. Retrieved 2013-07-22.
  16. Robert Nkemdiche: Ole Miss still leads for nation’s undisputed No. 1 prospect
  17. 1 2 "The Nkemdiche Watch". Saturday Down South. 2013-01-15. Retrieved 2013-07-22.
  18. Ole Miss nabbing #1 recruit Nkemdiche would be icing on the cake
  19. "Robert Nkemdiche, Max Browne among impact freshmen". Sporting News. February 4, 2013.
  20. "Ole Miss vs. Vanderbilt: Grading Robert Nkemdiche's College Debut". BleacherReport. August 30, 2013.
  21. "Ole Miss DE Robert Nkemdiche (hamstring) out for LSU". CBS Sports. October 14, 2013.
  22. "Robert Nkemdiche suspended for Sugar Bowl". December 20, 2015.
  23. "NFL Events: Combine Player Profiles - Robert Nkemdiche".
  24. "*Robert Nkemdiche - Mississippi, DT : 2016 NFL Draft Scout Player Profile".
  25. "NFL draft: Results, analysis for every Round 1 pick". 29 April 2016. Retrieved 29 April 2016.
  26. Clay Travis. "Robert Nkemdiche, nation's top recruit, riles up Mississippi Legislature". FOX Sports.
  27. Sherman, Mitch (September 20, 2011). "Definitely worth watching".
  28. Denzel Nkemdiche Profile – OLEMISSSPORTS.COM – OLE MISS Official Athletic Site. Olemisssports.Com. Retrieved on 2012-09-04.
  29. "Nkemdiche is stable, suspected marijuana found". The Clarion Ledger. December 13, 2015.
  30. "Ole Miss DL Robert Nkemdiche charged with marijuana possession". December 14, 2015.
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