As a part of Arizona Sports 98.7’s newsmakers week, Cardinals General Manager Steve Keim had an interview with the team.
And one of the comments sicks out a bit as to what one of his biggest regrets might be.
#AZCardinals GM Steve Keim on @DougandWolf987 “If we ever fail, no one is ever harder on me than me”— Mike Jurecki (@mikejurecki) February 16, 2018
"Maybe you need to take a player who is less talented who loves it a little more.” Said Keim pic.twitter.com/rDLCoBLygA
Did you catch that?
The first player who comes to mind when you talk about “talent” and needing to “love it a little more” is Robert Nkemdiche.
Nkemdiche was drafted in 2016 by the Cardinals in the first round with the 29th pick, coming out of college with a modest 81 tackles, 16 for loss and 6 sacks.
His stats don’t define “elite prospect” but his physical measurables and innate talent was considered by many to be worth a top 5 pick. His lack of development in college from the #1 overall high school recruit was sometimes pushed onto his character, as people said that he “took plays off” on tape and relied too much on his athleticism and not his technique.
He was also knocked by some for if he “truly cared” about football enough.
Nkemdiche’s passions extend to more than just the playing field, as he’s an accomplished jazz musician as well who can play multiple instruments and has a unique passion for different topics.
Here’s an example below from his Twitter account:
Good morning. Here is blindfolded Robert Nkemdiche playing the guitar with his tongue. pic.twitter.com/pnrjppRyL2— Cornbread Hardliner (@TwoYdsandaCloud) February 9, 2018
Do “off-field” interests like this matter?
My opinion, they do not. That’s maybe not the same for all, however. And these are questions that have dogged Robert since he finished his first college season.
His rookie season he was inactive for the majority of his games, and in his 2nd year he was a rotational player who never seemed to be able to make an impact or crack the starting lineup. He did at least play versus year one where he...didn’t.
Now, Nkemdiche isn’t done as a prospect, by any means.
He’s only 23 years old entering his 3rd year in the league and showed more flashes late down the stretch last year. But he’s still been a disappointment for many so far.
But does that mean that Keim is specifically targeting him with his comment?
Or perhaps not.
The comment might have been a general one from the Cards brass as a way of “GM-speak” but it’s still important to note that at heart, what NFL general managers seek to do is find a return on their investment of draft picks.
While I personally don’t hold to the idea of a player needing to be focused on football “100% of the time”, it can certainly be a big part of the ideology that some in the National Football League push.
What we do know?
This third season will be perhaps the defining season of Nkemdiche’s career. If he takes a large step forward to being an impact starter, he could be in Arizona for years and justify the pick.
Should he continue to play at his current level, he will be considered perhaps the very miss that Steve Keim is talking about.
What do you think?
Is Keim talking about Robert Nkemdiche? And do you think that he will be a boom or a bust in 2018 under Al Holcomb?
Sound off below in the comments section!