Noah Spence, EDGE
School: Eastern Kentucky | Conference: Ohio Valley
College Experience: RS Junior | Age: 21
Height / Weight: 6-2 / 251 lbs
Projected Draft Status: Late 1st - 2nd Round
NFL Comparison: DeMarcus Lawrence
Spence is a former five-star high school recruit who was a rising star at Ohio State -- a first-team All-Big 10 selection as a sophomore in 2013 -- before running into trouble for failed drug tests and getting banned permanently from the conference. Spence admitted that his two failed drug tests were due to ecstasy use and he checked in to rehab in order to seek help. Although he was eligible for the 2015 Draft, Spence decided to transfer to FCS school Eastern Kentucky in order to redeem himself in the eyes of scouts, proving that he matured both physically and mentally. His decision paid off, because in 2015 he dominated the Ohio Valley conference with 13.5 sacks and 22.5 tackles for loss.
Sources close to him say Spence has matured as a player and a person, and has a renewed sense of accountability off the field. One of those people close to him is Ohio State's head coach Urban Meyer, who helped Noah get a second chance after he was dismissed from the Big 10. Spence is one of the most explosive edge pass rushers in this year's draft class, and he was almost un-blockable participating in the Senior Bowl. He has the fast-twitch first step that scouts crave and overall tested very well at the Combine. Personnel departments have watched Spence's progress leading up to the Draft very closely, as he was one of the most interviewed players at the Combine and scheduled numerous pre-draft visits.
- Explosive first step, able to immediately put mid-level collegiate tackles on skates by converting speed to power
- Natural bend and flexibility to turn the corner and pressure/pursue the quarterback
- Showed effectiveness as a rusher with both his hand in the dirt and as a stand-up player; versatility in either a 3-4 scheme where he'd play OLB or a traditional 4-3 DE
- Stayed clean and recommitted himself to football after failed drug tests derailed his collegiate career; shows mental toughness
- Can be corralled and eliminated from the run game by more powerful offensive linemen. Can't shed blocks to make the tackle on runners once engaged
- Most effective when rushing outside the shoulder of the tackle or tight end (known as the 9-technique). Doesn't have the size to effectively push the pocket from inside
- Lacks a diversity of pass-rush moves, specifically a counter, which would compensate for the width of his stance by going back to the inside once a tackle over-commits outside
- Off-the-field maturity needs to be heavily researched; failed two drug tests due to "Molly" addiction at Ohio State, arrested for public intoxication/disorderly conduct in May 2015 but incident was expunged from record
#Redskins Scott Campbell went to see Noah Spence at his Pro Day and he visited the team yesterday. Think they want to get a feel on person
— Emmanual Benton (@Manny_PPI) April 14, 2016
Washington Redskins, Houston Texans, Baltimore Ravens & New Orleans Saints Interested in Drafting Noah Spence https://t.co/646sm6eIzE— Sportige (@Sportige) April 17, 2016
NFL Radio: Pat Kirwan/Jim Miller "not buying that Noah Spence falls in the Draft" said he dominated the Senior Bowl teams won't pass on him— #Bucs (@MikeInTampa2) April 7, 2016
Yeah, Noah Spence did dominate the Senior Bowl practices...vs John Theus, La'Raven Clark, Vadal Alexander, and Spencer Drango. #Context— Brandon Thorn (@VeteranScout) April 4, 2016
Noah Spence didn't have those same "shaky" interviews during Senior Bowl week. Made an outstanding impression.— Eric Robinson (@ERobinsonRSEN) March 1, 2016
Not a bad rep from Noah Spence in 1v1's at the Senior Bowl: pic.twitter.com/ya6hLTO4eI— Connor Rogers (@ConnorJRogers) February 22, 2016
For context purposes that's 215 pound Matt Dayes drilling Noah Spence... https://t.co/X1MuK7JaLh— J. (@DraftHitta) March 29, 2016
Noah Spence's Von Miller-esque bend could make a lot of people forget about a lot of things https://t.co/Lx8DUeRmEW— NFL Draft Geek (@NFLDraftGeek) March 13, 2016
Noah Spence is relentless. https://t.co/ykhIh10mvx— josh houtz (@Houtz) February 22, 2016
Noah Spence dips his inside shoulder while accelerating through the block. And he strips the ball https://t.co/i1eOZre3XG— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) February 22, 2016
Someone forgot to tell the LT how good Noah Spence is. https://t.co/oJiVjsPy7c— josh houtz (@Houtz) February 22, 2016
Nice dip and rip here by Noah Spence https://t.co/HJ3KNel1In— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) February 9, 2016
Noah Spence around the edge https://t.co/DjF4SQC8V3— IDthe22 (@idthe22) January 30, 2016
How He Would Fit on the Redskins
The Redskins are doing some serious due diligence on Noah Spence prior to the draft, which is a bit confusing given the amount of talent we already have at his position. Per reports, Washington privately interviewed Spence at the Combine, hosted him in Ashburn for a workout, and then sent scouting director Scott Campbell to his Pro Day. It's obvious we have interest in him, whether that's in the first or second round. I personally rank Spence as the third-best "edge" player in this draft, behind Joey Bosa and Shaq Lawson, and most evaluators would concur that he's a first round talent.
He's not a reach at #21 per se, but I just have a hard time believing that the Redskins will prioritize an edge rusher when we already have Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith, and Junior Galette. If we take him, it would almost certainly mean that the coaching staff has plans to move either Smith or Trent Murphy inside to a 3-4 DE type role, since Spence's fit at 250ish pounds is squarely at OLB. I believe Scot McCloughan adheres to the adage "you can never have too many pass rushers", but with so many other needs on the defense and elsewhere, I can't see the utility in spending a premium pick on a player who would not be an immediate starter.