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2017 NFL DRAFT

Noah Spence, DE

School: Eastern Kentucky  |  Conference: OVC
College Experience: Junior  |  Hometown: Harrisburg, PA
Height/Weight: 6-2 / 251 lbs.
Projected Ranking
OverallPositionProj. Rnd.
3151-2

Player Lowdown

Combine Results
40 Yd 20 Yd 10 Yd 225 Bench Vertical jump Broad Shuttle 3-Cone Drill
Workout Results
40 Yd 20 Yd 10 Yd 225 Bench Vertical jump Broad Shuttle 3-Cone Drill
4.792.751.6125 3510'1"4.357.21

Mock Draft Expert Analysis

  • Arizona Cardinals | #30
    he trade for Chandler Jones certainly boosts Arizona's pass rush, but the remarkable depth of this year's defensive line class could allow general manager Steve Keim even more. Spence is arguably the elite edge rusher of this draft but lacks ideal size at just 6-2, 251 pounds and comes with well-documented off-field concerns. Keim has been willing to overlook these concerns for other playmakers (like Tyrann Mathieu) in the past and may see Spence as simply too dynamic to pass up.
  • Indianapolis Colts | #18
    The Colts need to address their mediocre pass rush and as long as they are comfortable with his character, Spence would be terrific value at this pick.
  • New York Jets | #20
    This kid has some off-field issues that will scare teams away. But he has pass-rush ability and the Jets lack it in the worst way. Take a chance.
  • Buffalo Bills | #19
    Rex Ryan can snag a talented but troubled defensive lineman who doesn't have the same baggage as someone like Robert Nkemdiche.
  • Carolina Panthers | #31
    Carolina retained Charles Johnson for a year, but his production dipped a whole lot last season. Drafting his eventual replacement at the end of Round 1 is a wise move.
 

Player Overview

Spence displayed first-round talent at Ohio State, but was banned by the Big Ten for repeated failed drug tests and ended up at Eastern Kentucky in 2015.

Spence spent one year rebuilding his image off the field and dominating on it at EKU, earning co-Defensive Player of the Year honors in the Ohio Valley Conference. He finished the season with 22.5 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks to go with 63 tackles, 15 quarterback hurries, three forced fumbles and a pair of fumble recoveries. That was enough to forego his senior season.

"I want to thank Eastern Kentucky University, my coaches, especially Coach (Dean) Hood, Coach (Jake) Johnson, my teammates, classmates, and Colonel fans for giving me a second chance." Spence said. "I'm grateful for the opportunity and will always be a proud alumnus of this great university. Graduating from college has been the capstone of a very humbling chapter in my life.

"Most importantly, I must thank my family for being there for me throughout my entire journey. I couldn't have done it without you, and I can't emphasize enough how much your unconditional love has meant to me. You motivate me, and I want nothing more than to make you proud."

Spence was coach Urban Meyer's first five-star recruit to commit to the Buckeyes and was the team leader in sacks as a first-year starter in 2013 at Ohio State. He finished the season with 52 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss and 8.0 sacks over his 12 starts.

Spence's outstanding sophomore season led to All-Big Ten accolades and he was also named Academic All-Big Ten. However, he tested positive for a banned substance at the Big Ten title game and was suspended for the Orange Bowl and the first two games of 2014.

He claimed the failed test was due to someone slipping something into his drink, but the problem turned out to be far more severe - as he would later admit to having an issue with the drug Ecstacy since high school. Spence tested positive for Ecstacy again in September of 2014 and was permanently banned from the Big Ten after his appeal was denied.

Spence admitted to his teammates that he had a problem with Ecstacy and Meyer set him up with a drug-treatment program connected to the hospital at Ohio State that September. He graduated from the program and focused on school and conditioning.

Spence said he forced himself to watch Ohio State win the national title in January 2015, and claims that was a turning point for him in terms of football.

"I will never in my life forget that feeling," Spence told FoxSports.com in October. "That feeling right there is always in my head whenever I do anything because I know I don't ever want to go back again, hit rock bottom -- and I know I won't be back there ever again because I will always have that feeling in my mind."

Rather than declare early for the NFL Draft and hope a team took a late-round flyer on his immense skillset, Spence transferred to FCS program Eastern Kentucky after Meyer connected him with coach Dean Hood. He resumed his playing career and dominated - albeit largely against a lower level of competition.

"I felt like I hadn't proven enough off the field and that I needed more time to show everybody that you could be a better person off the field and to show that that wasn't me -- and that I can go for the rest of my life and be a straight-forward great person, and that I can do that, starting with disciplining myself enough to go down a level and not be ignorant and try and go straight to the NFL," Spence told FoxSports.com.

He is still learning how to put together a consistent pass rush sequence, but it's all there athletically for Spence to be a highly coveted NFL prospect. He will certainly have to answer many questions about his drug history and there will be some teams that take him off their draft boards entirely.

"I just want to show the world that I am a better person than when I left Ohio State," he said.

Strengths Weaknesses

STRENGTHS: Fluid, balanced athlete with smooth lateral quickness and change of direction ability to avoid blocks. Gets upfield quickly with his first step burst and closes fast, staying low to the ground with above average coordination. Wins the corner and controls his momentum extremely well with his natural leverage giving him an added advantage. Displays deadly dip to flatten to the quarterback.

Spence is a versatile front-seven defender, lining up at left and right end, standing up or putting his hand on the ground. He appears comfortable on his feet and has dropped in space enough to show that he can do it.

Engaged in several confrontations with linemen at the Senior Bowl, viewed as evidence of passion and competitiveness from scouts rather than as a red flag - perhaps, in part, because he played so well. Spence showed off his trademark burst and agility off the edge, repeatedly getting the best of the tackles on-hand and none had an answer for his edge quickness. He also showed impressive strength to hold up at the point of attack in the running game, anchoring well and slipping off blocks to harass running backs.

WEAKNESSES: Spence's documented history with an addiction to Ecstacy led to his being banned by the Big Ten permanently and a stint in a drug rehabilitation program. He transferred to Eastern Kentucky and passes numerous drug tests, but that history will be a prime focus during pre-draft interviews and some teams will remove him from their boards entirely.

Needs to improve his snap discipline and anticipation. Needs to show heavier hands to jolt blockers at the point of attack, struggling to consistently convert speed to power. He has a light anchor and can be moved by blockers and his lack of height hinders his backfield vision at times.

Needs to improve his instincts and experience in coverage, especially with several teams with a 3-4 base defense scouting him as a stand-up linebacker. Needs to improve his functional strength, play with more of a mean streak and keep his nose clean.

IN OUR VIEW: A true wild-card prospect, Spence has top 15 talent, there is no question about that. But the former Ohio State Buckeye has a history of drug abuse, although he has cleaned up his habits since being banned from the Big Ten.

Spence is a slippery rusher with the lateral quicks and low pad level to be an impact pass rusher in the NFL. How Spence interviews and carries himself in the pre-draft process will be an important step in his job interview for NFL teams.

--Dane Brugler and Rob Rang (2/1/16)

 
 
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Player News
11/24/2015 - 2015 OVC CO-DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR (COACHES): Noah Spence (DE), Eastern Kentucky...Spence, the transfer from Ohio State, made an immediate impact in his first season in an Eastern Kentucky uniform. The junior defensive end finished the regular season ranked fourth nationally in tackles-for-loss (2.0/game), fifth in sacks (1.05/game) and 22nd in forced fumbles/game (0.27). Overall Spence had 22.5 tackles-for-loss and 11.5 sacks (the fourth-most in EKU single-season history) while also adding 63 tackles (31 solo), 15 quarterback hurries, forcing three fumbles and recovering two fumbles. He had at least one sack in nine of 11 games including 2.5 combined in two games against FBS opponents. His play up front, which included seeing numerous double teams, helped the EKU team rank No. 15 nationally in rush defense (111.8 yards/game allowed).

Spence was named OVC Defensive Player of the Week on Oct. 18 after registering seven tackles, 3.5 tackles-for-loss and 1.5 sacks in a road victory over Southeast Missouri. He also added 3.5 tackles-for-loss in a double overtime road win over Murray State and had a season-high eight tackles against Austin Peay. Spence is the 14th EKU player to be named OVC Defensive Player of the Year (a group that includes former NFL players Aaron Jones, Chad Bratzke and Yeremiah Bell) and first since the 2010 season (defensive lineman Andrew Soucy). - OVC Football

 

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