Philadelphia Eagles: Run, don’t walk to claim Robert Nkemdiche

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

Despite being loaded on the defensive line, the Philadelphia Eagles should take a flyer on ex-Arizona Cardinals tackle Robert Nkemdiche when he hits waivers.

Robert Nkemdiche is one of the hardest players to pin down in the league.

Considered the top player in the country when he signed on to play college football at Ole Miss, at times, Nkemdiche looked like a certified first-round talent because of his size, speed, and power, but his six sacks in 29 games of action told a completely different story.

But then you put on his college tap and my god; he looks like an absolute stud.

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Nkemdiche was so over talented that he even earned a few Myles Jack-style snaps on the offensive side of the ball – that is, if Myles Jack ballooned up to 296 pounds while retaining tight end-esque 4.87 speed.

However, one major knock Nkemdiche received during the pre-draft process was his individuality and shall we say excentric off the field personality.

From multiple arrests both at the professional and college level, to questions about his commitment to the game, Nkemdiche immediately proved his doubters right after being selected 29th overall by the Arizona Cardinals in the 2016 NFL Draft; logging only 44 tackles and 4.5 sacks in 27 games of action (six starts).

Though his mildly promising 2018 season was cut tragically short by a mid-season ACL tear, the Cards clearly didn’t like that Nkemdiche came to camp overweight and promptly released the physically unable to perform defensive tackle one day into what would be his fourth NFL season.

And after opting against picking up his fifth-year option earlier this summer, the Cards’ move really shouldn’t be all that surprising.

But, you may ask, why would the Philadelphia Eagles want a defensive tackle who was arrested as recently as June for pot possession when they already have three starting-caliber tackles on their roster vying for snaps?

Easy, Nkemdiche’s upside is Fletcher Cox-esque.

Now sure, it’s a total longshot that Nkemdiche ever becomes a Cox-style force on the interior, but if he can shed a few pounds and return to his college weight at the game’s highest level, anything is possible.

Who knows, after three seasons with a certified loser, maybe all Nkemdiche needs is a strong locker room with a winning culture to finally put all of the pieces together?

And if it doesn’t work? Easy, cut him loose, no harm no foul.

With a cap hit under $2 million, the Eagles should easily be able to slot Nkemdiche in even with their current cap situation and take a chance at a super-sized reclamation project.

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Really, this isn’t a question about whether or not Robert Nkemdiche has what it takes to become a star or even a rotational player; no, this is a question about whether the 30th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft has a higher upside than Hassan Ridgeway, Bruce Hector, or 2018 playoff hero Treyvon Hester. If the Philadelphia Eagles can put aside his off the field issues and take an Andy Reid-style shot at a high-upside project, the answer to that question should surely be a resounding yes.