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NFL Combine Primer: Can Nwachukwu Impress the Scouts?

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A three-year starter for WVU, Noble Nwachukwu isn’t the prototype player but has some skills that are intriguing.

TCU v West Virginia Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Noble Nwachukwu wasn’t always the most heralded player on the defense for West Virginia, but a case can be made that he was one of the most important. Pass rushers do the dirty work on the defense and Noble was the main cog the last few years. Noble led the Big 12 in sacks in conference play in 2015 and led the team in sacks in 2016.

What They Are Saying

NFL.com

"I think he's a stand-up rush backer. He's a really serious kid who is very dependable. His dad passed away before the TCU game and he went out and played his guts out before leaving to be with his family the next day." -- South regional scout for AFC team

NFL COMPARISON: Pernell McPhee

Might be considered a "tweener" in some circles and certainly lacks the length teams look for along the edge, but his quickness off the snap and plus motor could allow him to play despite size limitations. He's athletic enough to play a stand-up role on base packages and then rush with his hand down in sub-packages. Can compete for a backup role early and has the talent to become an eventual starter.

College2NFLPros.com

A three-year starter at defensive end, Nwachukwu had an impressive junior season compiling 8.5 sacks and 13 total tackles for a loss. This year Nwachukwu has had some nagging injuries which have limited his production. Nwachukwu’s pass rushing abilities are a valuable commodity in the NFL. There is always a place for a defensive end that can get to the quarterback. Look for Nwachukwu to be a late rounder or free agent signee. NFL comparison – Dwight Freeney

Where Noble Can Shine

At 6’2” and 275 pounds, Noble is looking for a position in the NFL. He’s shorter than the prototypical 4-3 defensive end and too thin for a 3-4 defensive end. He’s a little too stocky for a 4-3 pass rushing linebacker and way too big for the 3-4 linebacker. So what does he do? Well, the positional drill and bench press are going to go a long way for Noble.

The defensive line results are often muddled because they include both interior defensive linemen who weigh over 300 pounds and the 230 speed rushers. For Noble, if he can get a bench press number in the upper 20s (27+), it will go a long way to show he has the strength necessary to play along the defensive line at the top level.

He can also shine in drills that show off his quick burst. Mike Mayock particularly loves “running the arc” and I agree. As Mayock explains, players line up, hands in a 3-point stance and run to their right, demonstrating a rip technique against a bag placed approximately four yards away. The players run the drill again, this time going to their left and demonstrating a swim technique. The techniques aren’t as important as being able to maintain speed and showing flexibility. Noble’s quick burst off the ball and ability to maintain his speed through the corner would show here. This could be the place where he shows a team enough to hear his name called.

What To Expect

Noble is a tweener and unfortunately, tweeners get drafted based upon a team falling in love with them. There are plenty of players who don’t have the correct size/weight/height but perform in the NFL and there are hundreds of guys with all the measureables who never amount to a thing. If Noble is able to display some of the quick burst and strength he has shown the last two years for West Virginia, he could do enough for a team to take a chance on him later in the draft. Being compared to Pernell McPhee is a good start.