Cardinals Draft Day 1: Robert Nkemdiche
Opening night of the 2016 NFL Draft was full of trades and surprises. The Arizona Cardinals sat and waited to pick at 29, and despite not having a second round pick they chose not to trade down. This could prove to be the right move for GM Steve Keim and company since they were able to grab a free-falling Robert Nkemdiche, defensive tackle from Ole Miss.
Nkemdiche was projected to go in the top half of the first round but off the field issues saw him fall nearly to the bottom. Still at 6’3 1/2 and 294 lbs the Cardinals have a beast to plug into their defensive line next year as they try to get back to the NFC Championship game. In 3 years at Mississippi, the 21-year-old had 41 tackles with 16 of them being for a loss and 6 sacks. His strength seems to be stuffing the run rather than being a sack monster, but who knows what he can develop into in this already stacked Cardinals defense.
If Nkemdiche can maintain professionalism off the field and take advantage of being teammates with guys like Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu, he should be able to have a productive career. The organization has a reputation for being able to take players with questionable character and steer them down the right path. The Cardinals of course traded their second round pick earlier this offseason to New England for Defensive End Chandler Jones, so they are potentially building a force to be reckoned with on the defensive line. With the first round seeing 4 trades, it is certainly possible that the Cardinals could still trade up into the second round tomorrow. If not they will pick 29th in the 3rd round, number 92nd overall. We will see what they do tomorrow when the draft resumes.
Kevin McQuade covers the NFL for MFST, you can follow him on Twitter @kmcquade9.