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2017 NFL Draft Profile: West Virginia Defensive End Noble Nwachukwu

The explosive West Virginia defensive end may be a steal in the later rounds of this weekend’s NFL Draft.

NCAA Football: Big 12 Media Day Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Noble Nwachukwu came to West Virginia University out of Wylie, Texas as a three-star recruit, and his journey there was a bit spectacular. The eldest son of Nigerian immigrants, Noble, his father and a high school teammate made the drive from Wylie to Morgantown during the summer before his high school senior year to attend a camp held by the West Virginia coaching staff. After spending an hour with then assistant coaches Daron Roberts and Bill Kirelawich, the trio hopped back in the car and drove the 1,200 miles straight back to Texas. It was that dedication that tipped the scales for the West Virginia staff, and an offer was extended shortly afterward.

After redshirting his first year on campus and playing sparingly as a redshirt freshman, Noble would see his role increased as a sophomore in 2014, where he played in all 13 games that season. Nwachukwu had his most successful season as a Mountaineer in 2015 when he finished fifth in the Big 12 Conference with 8 total sacks. Nwachukwu was named an All-Big 12 Conference Honorable Mention in both 2015 and 2016.

Before the West Virginia’s game against the TCU Horned Frogs on October 22, 2016, Nwachukwu woke up to a text message that no one ever wants to receive. His father, Emmanuel, had passed away that morning due to complications from diabetes. After spending some time on the phone with his family, Noble informed the West Virginia coaches of what had happened and that he would be returning home, but not until after the game that evening.

“I bet Noble hasn’t said five to 10 words if they’re not pried out of him, but that morning was probably the most we’ve talked one-on-one. It wasn’t about football. It was, ‘Are you sure you want to do this?’ And he said ‘Coach, I’m ready to go. You don’t have to worry about me.’ He basically sad he was there for his teammates.” - Tony Gibson, West Virginia defensive coordinator

Throughout his career as a Mountaineer, Noble accumulated 117 solo tackles, 26.5 tackles for loss, 13 sacks, seven passes deflected, three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.

Combine Results

Category Result
Category Result
Height 6'1"
Weight 268 lbs
Arms 33 1/8"
Hands 9"
Bench Press 27 reps (225)
40-Yard Dash 4.83 sec.
Vertical Jump 30.5 inches
Broad Jump 110.0 inches



Noble is explosive. He comes out of his stance with the twitch and acceleration that allows him to get into the backfield and disrupt the pass. Nwachukwu is very quiet off the field, but on plays very aggressively on the field.


Noble’s biggest weakness is his size. He lacks the height and length for a prototypical NFL defensive end, and an offensive tackle with a long reach can get inside Nwachukwu and throw off his pass rush.

Possible Fits

Nwachukwu will fit in best with a team that has some veteran leadership at the defensive end spot that he can backup for a couple seasons, before earning the starting job. The Denver Broncos, New York Giants and the Pittsburgh Steelers immediately come to mind as ideal landing spots that would allow Noble to continue learning and improving.

Outlook and Projections

Noble is considered a tweener by some NFL scouts, because of his size. Nwachukwu has been compared to Chicao Bears linebacker Pernell McPhee and, as with McPhee, could potentially make the switch to outside linebacker. Nwachukwu can compete for a backup role early in his career and has the talent to become an eventual starter.

Projection: Late 5th round - middle 6th round