Rob Ninkovich was a versatile edge defender for the New England Patriots. He had excellent turnovers and big stops, but his brilliant career didn’t have the best start. Before joining the championship-winning Patriots, Ninkovich was an underdog. The defender didn’t get any offers from Division I. He spent two years at the JuCo level and then signed with Purdue and played for two more seasons. Rosevelt Colvin, Ryan Kerrigan, Cliff Avril and Ray Edwards came from Purdue. Ninkovich didn’t play until his senior campaign in which he had 48 tackles, 17 TFL and 8.0 sacks.
Ninkovich entered the NFL as a fifth-round pick in the 2006 NFL Draft by the New Orleans Saints. He shared his first three seasons between the New Orleans Saints and Miami Dolphins. During this time, Ninkovich had trouble adjusting to the NFL and sustained a terrible knee injury in 2007. His career was in danger, and things didn’t look too good for him.
Ninkovich worked really hard to add long snapping to his skills, he dreamed of making the Saints roster in 2009. Sadly, this didn’t happen, and the Saints cut Ninkovich in August 2009.
The Patriots got him right away, and offered him a one-year deal. This marked the begin of an eight-year career. During this time, Ninkovich won two Super Bowls with the team.
Rob Ninkovich turns into a talented player
Ninkovich entered the NFL when most of the teams worked at a 4-3 base scheme. The defender measured at 6-foot-2, 260 pounds and his athleticism was great. However, he was too small to be a defensive end. He couldn’t really fit in an off-ball linebacker position. The Patriots didn’t have a problem with the scheme, because the team had an ability to turn similar players into great talents.
The talented defender overcame the odds and made the active roster. He played on special teams in 2009. In 2010, NInkovich joined the starting lineup as a 3-4 outside linebacker. He finished the season with 4.0 sacks, intercepted two passes, knocked down three passes and recovered three fumbles. In the period between 2011 and 2015, Ninkovich started all regular and post-season games.