Buffalo Bills (Round 1, Pick 19):
Robert Nkemdiche – Defensive End / Defensive Tackle, Ole Miss
Robert Nkemdiche was the #1 overall recruit in the country in 2013 and was drawing comparisons to the legendary Reggie White, even before stepping on the field his true freshman year at Ole Miss. Had Nkemdiche delivered on the hype, there is no question he would be in the discussion for the #1 overall pick in this draft. Unfortunately Nkemdiche can leave even the best talent evaluator scratching his head, from his under-whelming production at Ole Miss to the significant off-the-field baggage.
The Buffalo Bills have exhibited an appetite for taking risks on players with red flags, most notably signing Richie Incognito after his involvement in the Miami Dolphins’ bullying scandal. Rex Ryan’s defensive playbook contains many “exotic blitzes” which are intended to confuse the offensive line by bringing pressure from all sorts of different defensive alignments. Nkemdiche projects as a 3-4 defensive end but has the versatility to move to the interior during passing downs. With the New York Jets, Ryan had two players with similar versatility in Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson. The ultimate wild-card when you factor in the red flags and the all-pro upside, Nkemdiche makes sense for a Buffalo Bills team that will need to take risks if they hope to de-throne the Patriots in the AFC East.
NFL Player Comparison: Sheldon Richardson
New York Jets (Round 1, Pick 20):
Noah Spence – Defensive End / Outside Linebacker, Eastern Kentucky
One of the most volatile prospects in this year’s draft, in terms of both rankings and opinions amongst analysts, Noah Spence is a perfect fit as a pass rushing outside linebacker in the New York Jets’ 3-4 defensive front. Spence was originally teammates with Joey Bosa at Ohio State before transferring to Eastern Kentucky, after a series of off-the-field incidents involving substance abuse. Prior to a disappointing 4.80 40-yard dash time at the combine, Spence was penciled in as a top-10 pick. While we all know the 40-yard dash is an over-rated metric, especially for pass-rushers, Spence’s ability to rush the passer has a great deal to do with his quickness off the edge.
One thing we do know is that Spence can rush the passer and in the NFL teams put a premium on getting after the QB. Although seemingly over-flowing with talented defensive linemen, the Jets have long sought a pass-rusher at the outside linebacker position. With Muhammad Wilkerson likely to be traded or leave via free agency next offseason, it would be prudent for the Jets to plan ahead. A front-seven of Leonard Williams and Sheldon Richardson at defensive end position complimented by Noah Spence at outside linebacker, means the Jets will still have a ferocious defense even after Wilkerson departs.
NFL Player Comparison: Demarcus Lawrence
Washington Redskins (Round 1, Pick 21):
A’Shawn Robinson – Defensive Tackle, Alabama
The most pressing need for the Washington Redskins is the interior of their defensive line, struggling late in the season at both stopping the run and generating any semblance of a pass-rush. The departure of nose-tackle Terrance Knighton to the New England Patriots during free agency only exacerbated the Redskins’ need to add talent at the defensive tackle position. A’Shawn Robinson is the first of what I foresee as multiple picks allocated to the position by Washington. Another highly versatile lineman who could fit in nearly any NFL system, Robinson is especially a fit for the Redskins and would slot in right away as their starting nose tackle. There is no question Robinson will be able to help bolster Washington’s run defense right away, his upside though is largely dependent upon his development as a pass-rusher. Unlike many of the other prospects at the position, Robinson has no noticeable red flags and is seen by many as a low-variance selection.
NFL Player Comparison: Ty Warren
Please click the like button at the bottom & leave comments if you enjoyed the article. Make sure to check back for the rest of Round 1…