As teams get to the next level of their draft preparations, Robert Nkemdiche, Jarran Reed, A'Shawn Robinson and Noah Spence have all confirmed meeting with the Redskins.
Ole Miss defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche on Friday said he had met with only one team so far at the NFL Combine this week, and that team was the Washington Redskins.
He joined Alabama’s Jarran Reed and A’Shawn Robinson, along with Eastern Kentucky’s Noah Spence -- all big men on the defensive front who confirmed meeting with Washington this week in Indianapolis.
At one point, Nkemdiche was considered to perhaps be the first player taken, but with inconsistencies on the field and an off-the-field issue in December forcing him to serve a one-game suspension to end his junior season, questions remain about him at the professional level.
On Friday, he addressed those issues, trying to quell any concerns about him in the process.
"I have changed. I’ve lasered my focus to what’s important and kept away from things that can take football away from me and jeopardize my career because I love the game so much,” Nkemdiche said. “I never want it to be taken away from me, and I know if I’m in situations like that it can be taken away from me. I’ve just cleaned up a little bit.”
Nkemdiche was at an Atlanta hotel when he fell off a balcony. He was charged with marijuana possession and admitted that he was drunk during the incident.
He has been up front with teams, though, saying he’s told the truth about what happened that night.
"I don’t try to create an act because for the people that do know me as a person ... that wasn’t me,” Nkemdiche said. “That was rash. It was blunder. The people that know me know that’s not who I am. I don’t do those kind of things. …Just got to keep moving forward, just keep being positive and working hard.”
Nkemdiche was an Associated Press second-team All-American during his junior season, as the 6-foot-4, 296 pounder recorded 29 tackles (seven for loss) along with three sacks and two passes defensed.
But even though he put a lot of positive plays on film, a trend appeared to evaluators: he would take some plays off.
"There are times I didn’t finish. I was lazy on some plays at times, but I told them I’m going to keep growing as a player,” Nkemdiche said. “I’m going to keep learning how to finish and keep becoming more of a student of the game and just focus on being the best NFL player I can be.”
“If you look at Robert Nkemdiche in a vacuum and just watch his Alabama tape against the best team in college football, he was dominant,” NFL Network’s Mike Mayock said this week. “Off that one tape, if he didn't have any off-the-field issues and if he'd played that hard every week, we'd be talking about him as the first pick in this draft. That's how talented he is, and that's how much upside he has. However, once you factor in the inconsistency from snap to snap and game to game and the off-the-field situation, then you get into, how do you measure this kid? At what point does the risk justify the reward.”
Reed, meanwhile, played for the Crimson Tide for only two seasons. During his senior season in 2015, Reed earned All-SEC second-team honors as he tallied 53 tackles (4.5 for loss) along with a fumble recovery and a sack.
He started his collegiate career at East Mississippi Community College. There was obviously a massive jump up in competition, but Reed said the transition went seamlessly.
“It wasn’t difficult at all,” Reed said. “It was demanding, as well. Even though we won a national championship there -- supposed to have won two but it was only one. We came from one winning program to another. We just stayed focused there. There wasn’t much to do at the JUCO I went to. There was nothing but two gas stations, so you couldn’t really get in trouble. It was just all football.”
Robinson, meanwhile, left after junior season after a productive three-year run at Alabama.
The Fort Worth, Texas, native appeared in 42 games recording 133 tackles along with nine sacks.
But while he’s considered one of the best defensive linemen in this year’s group (he’s a first rounder in almost every mock draft), Robinson knows there’s still plenty to his game he needs to improve.
“[I] just [need to] get off the blocks faster,” Robinson said. “Stop patty-caking with the offensive linemen and just get off the block and go make the play.”
Spence climbed up many boards after in impressive showing at the Senior Bowl after being out of the spotlight upon transferring from Ohio State to Eastern Kentucky.
He recorded 11.5 sacks during the season, but questions continue to surround him after he failed two Big Ten drug tests, admitting he used ecstasy.
"I’m just telling the truth,” Spence said. “My whole story, it’s all out there. I’m just not holding anything back, you know?”
Confident the “party scene” life is behind him, Spence believes he can be a menace off the edge.
“I’m relentless on the field,” Spence said. “I think I can get better with like, my run-stopping abilities and playing within the framework of the defense.”