The Seattle Seahawks may not have a first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, but the team announced they signed former first-round selection Robert Nkemdiche. The former highly-touted prospect failed to live up to the lofty expectations that the defensive tackle had coming out of Ole Miss, but Pete Carroll is clearly hoping the Seahawks can get his best season yet.
Nkemdiche was selected by the Cardinals with the No. 29 pick of the 2016 NFL Draft after slipping in the first round. After three years of inconsistency, Nkemdiche was cut by the Cardinals in July 2019 only to be signed by the Dolphins weeks later. The pass rusher was recovering from knee surgery and was waived with a failed physical designation, per Seahawks.com. Nkemdiche played in two games for the Dolphins before once again being released.
The former defensive tackle standout did not play in the NFL last season. Nkemdiche’s best seasons came in 2018 when he notched 4.5 sacks, 32 tackles and a forced fumble in 10 appearances including six starts.
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The Seahawks Were Linked to Nkemdiche Prior to the 2016 NFL Draft
The Seahawks have not shied away from talented but underperforming players during the Pete Carroll era. Seattle already signed pass rusher Aldon Smith earlier this offseason who has also had ups-and-downs throughout his NFL career. Prior to the 2016 NFL Draft, ESPN’s Todd McShay listed the Seahawks as one of the teams that could take a chance on selecting Nkemdiche.
“Different general managers have different philosophies,” McShay said at the time, per The News Tribune. “At the end of the day, do you trust him. I think that’s really the whole thing with Robert Nkemdiche. And my answer is no, I don’t. …And yes, it’s enticing. And I certainly think there are some teams — you look at Seattle late in the first, Arizona late in the first, they’re teams that, traditionally, have taken chances on guys that have some character baggage and backgrounds. And if they wind up doing it, who knows? You can hit.”
Arians on Nkemdiche: ‘He Just Had to Learn What Pro Football Is All About’
Heading into the NFL, Nkemdiche put up crazy athletic testing numbers at the NFL Combine. The 6’3″, 294-pound pass rusher had an 80.6-inch wingspan, 35-inch vertical, notched 116 inches in the broad jump and ran a 4.87 40-yard dash at nearly 300 pounds.
During his brief career with the Cardinals, Nkemdiche flashed some of his potential on the defensive line. The move makes a lot of sense for the Seahawks as the team likely signed Nkemdiche to a one-year prove-it deal making his spot on the final roster not a sure thing. During a 2017 interview, former Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians explained some of the adjustments the pass rusher had to make.
“He just had to learn what pro football is all about,” Arians noted, per AZ Central. “When you’re the No.1 high school recruit in the country and you kicked everybody’s ass in high school, and you did it in college, you just showed up and did it. That doesn’t work here, especially when you’ve got guys that have children and are paying bill. This is a whole different level here. … Guys that were highly recruited sometimes have such an entitlement that it doesn’t work here.”