With the 2016 NFL Draft right around the corner, dynasty fantasy IDP owners need to separate the wheat from the chaff. A big topic of discussion is former Eastern Kentucky/Ohio State defender, Noah Spence. He has a lot of athleticism, but has a serious substance abuse problem. I reviewed his 2015 Eastern Kentucky games against Valparaiso, Kentucky, and NC State, along with his 2013 Ohio State games versus Penn State, Wisconsin, Michigan State, and California to get a better feel what skills and attributes this young man brings to the next level. These are my thoughts:
DE/OLB-Noah Spence, Eastern Kentucky 6′ 2″ 251 lbs.
Cons: Front and center is his issues with drugs and alcohol. He failed drug tests in 2013 and 2014 (got him banned in the Big Ten), along with getting sited for public intoxication in 2015 (later expunged because he completed the required community service). By most accounts, Spence is a hard-working, pleasant young man, but the pressures he felt in college will pale in comparison to what it will be in the NFL. Can he handle it? I have no idea and even NFL teams will be speculating. If the former Eastern Kentucky Colonel (no I am not making up his college’s team name) plays a defensive end in a 4-3, there will be some concerns regarding his 6′ 2″ height and his 33″ arms. Spence already has issues holding the point of attack, but will most likely not be able to see the play developing or keep blockers off due to his body’s limitations. As this defender relies on his speed, he does not have any developed technique aka: using spins, the dip and rip, swim moves, or great bend to get around offensive linemen. The former Colonel is also quite excitable on the field, can get caught taking bad angles which cause him to struggle, at times, to contain the signal caller in the pocket. His athleticism will only get him so far, and he did not drop back into coverage much in his collegian career which might make a transition to outside backer a bit harder.
Pros: Despite his average effort at the Combine (only excelled at the broad jump), Spence has good athleticism combined with an explosive first step. The aggressive play maker has a very high football intelligence that allows him to predict snap counts, reeking havoc. His motor is always running, it doesn’t matter if it’s the first play of the game or the last, Spence is using everything he has to disrupt the play including knocking the ball out! He uses his loose hips to crash down the line of scrimmage and times his jumps when he cannot reach the quarterback to swat passes away. The former Colonel can line up and down the line of scrimmage in the front seven, save for an inside linebacker spot. It doesn’t seem to matter if he uses a three or two point stance. Regardless of college team conference playing in the Big Ten or Ohio Valley, he produced at a high level rising to his competition. Could that also happen in the NFL?
Overall thoughts: Spence could play outside backer in a 3-4 or defensive end in a 4-3, but might start his career as a pass rushing specialist. His commitment to sobriety should be first on his and his potential owners minds. I would be targeting him in big play IDP dynasty leagues towards the end of the second round.
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