A Prospect A Day: 4-3 Defensive Ends, Robert Nkemdiche Scouting Report

Robert Nkemdiche, DE/DT, Ole Miss

6’5 293 lbs



Height, weight, speed is impressive. Looks like a much smaller man, built very well. Impressive burst upfield, good array of pass rush moves.

Heavy penetrator but not very patient, can take himself out of plays and does often. Comparable against the run versus pass, probably a better pass rusher though. Can get washed out by double teams and beaten by talent one-on-one.

Plays like a much smaller man and needs to learn to use his size to dominate, that comes with understanding of pad level. He uses swim, rip, spin and can slide through double teams with ease when pass rushing. He’s also as sure a tackler as there is in this draft.


Technique: 4 out of 5

Nkemdiche is an impressive technician, using a wide array of moves to work his way to the quarterback. His rip and swim moves are his best, but he uses the spin move better than most. He has the balance to get around the edge but the bend is still being developed.

Effectiveness: 3 out of 5

His sack numbers were low, but rushing from primarily the DT spot limited his opportunities. On tape, he’s a consistent presence in disrupting the quarterback and forcing the ball out quicker.

Potential: 5 out of 5

With his impressive size, athleticism and pass rush moves, there’s no reason to believe Nkemdiche couldn’t evolve into one of the NFL’s most dangerous rushers on the edge of a 4-3.


Technique: 3 out of 5

While he’s effective at clogging gaps and disengaging from blockers, he gets washed out by double teams due to poor pad level. He slides between linemen with more grace than most, though.

Effectiveness: 4 out of 5

His tackle numbers are fairly on par for the position and amount of games (11) he played in 2015. But what really impresses is Nkemdiche’s ability to wrap up and bring down the ball carrier by himself in space.

Potential: 4 out of 5

The one thing that keeps Nkemdiche from being an elite prospect against the run on the edge is his finesse nature as a player. He doesn’t appear to have the ability to anchor and hold against stronger lineman. Other than that, he has all of the tools and could find a niche as an explosive play specialist.


NFL Comparison: Mario Williams, DE, Buffalo Bills

Mario Williams, Cam NewtonNkemdiche 1








Perhaps a lofty comparison, Williams is the best pass rushing 4-3 end in the league, using his size to dominate and complete array of pass rush moves to beat tackles of all sizes and skill sets. Rushing off the edge, Nkemdiche is the most complete pass rusher in this draft and easily the most pro ready. He might have 10 sacks by year 2 in the right system.

A Prospect a Day: 4-3 Defensive Ends, Shaq Lawson Scouting Report

January 15, 2016

A Prospect a Day: This series, launching today, will outline one prospect per day, every day up to the upcoming draft. However, it is entirely possible that some days may feature more than one prospect.

The series will be starting with 4-3 Defensive Ends


6’4 260 lbs

Shaq Lawson



Very nice height, weight, speed combination, but probably larger than you’d want from an edge rusher in a 3-4.

Ideal fit is as a 4-3 end, though may even be effective as a 3-4 end due to his strong pocket-pushing ability and well-rounded abilities as a pass rusher and run-stuffer.

Can get sideline-to-sideline when needed and has a relentless motor, often making plays due to sheer effort.

Lacks a versatile arsenal of pass rushing skills, will sometimes use a spin move, but mostly sticks to a swim or bull rush, which is effective due to the massive strength in his lower body.

He’s a strong tackler and usually a strong finisher at the point of attack, which makes him effective even in goal line situations.

Could be an asset on an NFL roster, if not right away then within the first two years, though he has a relatively low ceiling to other prospects available in his range.


Technique: 3 out of 5

Lacks a versatile arsenal of pass rushing moves to go along with his bendability, functional strength, speed, and tackling technique.

Effectiveness: 4 out of 5

The sack numbers (12.5 in 15 games) are plenty impressive as a full-time starter on the edge who constantly sees chips and double teams, he’s a relentless effort guy that makes plays in the backfield more often than not.

Potential: 3 out of 5

Even if he can shore up the pass-rushing technique, he doesn’t possess the explosiveness or first-step quickness of the elite rushers in the NFL and will have a hard time competing against premiere left tackles at the pro level for sacks.


Technique: 3 out of 5

Lawson does a great job in play recognition, but can sometimes fail to set the edge, getting caught up in the backfield and opening lanes for runners.

Effectiveness: 3 out of 5

The 24.5 tackles for loss in 2015 shows Lawson’s strength: he lives in opponents’ backfields. It is also reveals his weakness as he often runs himself right out of plays rather than relying on sound technique to set the edge and hook the runner. His 59 tackles this season were due more to effort and motor than effectiveness in stopping the run.

Potential: 4 out of 5

The good news is, Lawson has all of the functional strength to be an above-average edge setter at the pro level, he just needs to be coached up. I would hesitate to project him as a premiere run stopper unless he puts on a little more weight, since I think he may get bullied by some of the bigger road graders in the NFL like Phil Loadholt, but he should find a nice niche on an NFL roster in this regard as his career progresses.


NFL Comparison: Jeremy Mincey, DE, Dallas Cowboys













Like Mincey, Lawson thrives as a pass rusher, but possesses the dimensions and leg strength to be an effective edge-setter. They’ll never set the world on fire with their sack numbers but can be a very effective part of nearly any 4-3 defensive rotation.

Projection: Top-15 pick