Why the Slide?: Justin Madubuike

Why the Slide?: Justin Madubuike, DT, Texas A&M
By Charlie Campbell, @draftcampbell

Six years ago, we started a series of articles on why certain prospects went undrafted. In that series, I reach out to sources with NFL teams to find out why their organizations passed on drafting a given player, and/or, what were the reasons for other teams to pass on that prospect. We got a lot of positive reader feedback about the series, so we decided to expand in the genre to investigate why some prospects slid in the draft. Four years ago, we started the Why the Slide? series, and this year it is back. Feel free to email me requests for Why the Slide? and Why Undrafted? at [email protected]. I can’t promise to get to all of them, but I will do my best and definitely will respond to the email.

During the 2019 season, Texas A&M’s Justin Madubuike was one of the best defensive linemen in the SEC and he had some dominant performances against good competition. Madubuike was superb against Georgia’s all-star offensive line, and he overwhelmed against Ole Miss, among others. Madubuike recorded 5.5 sacks, 45 tackles, and 11.5 tackles for a loss in an impressive campaign for the Aggies on the year.

Madubuike decided to skip his senior year, and the general consensus was that Madubuike would be a second-round pick and could go early on the second night of the 2020 NFL Draft. Many felt that Madubuike would be selected in the same region as TCU’s Ross Blacklock. However, Blacklock went early in the second round and Madubuike slipped to Round 3.

In speaking to team sources, the big issue that caused Madubuike to slide was character concerns. Teams said some makeup concerns over football character and work ethic were what weighed him down. Some inconsistency on the field was seen as a symptom of the football-character issues.

The Baltimore Ravens were a good landing spot for Madubuike. They’ve had success working with players with makeup issues and getting them to turn into solid pros. Whether that happens with Madubuike is largely up to him listening to the NFL coaching and guidance. The Ravens do not need Madubuike to be an instant starter because they have a veteran defensive line. Madubuike will serve as a backup to Brandon Williams, Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe.

If Madubuike learns from those veterans, he could work himself into being a starter as Campbell and Wolfe are not long-term starters at this point of their career. Madubuike has a good opportunity to have a successful NFL career, and it will be up to him to play up to his immense potential.

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