You know Noah Spence’s story. He was a five star recruit, kicked out of the Big 10 because of two failed drug tests for ecstasy. He went on to Eastern Kentucky, had a productive year and made people drool as he ran around bad tackle prospects at the Senior Bowl. That was right around the time of the Super Bowl and everyone suddenly wanted Spence to be Von Miller. Here’s the thing: He isn’t Von Miller and isn’t close as a prospect.
I’ll get to the red flags later.
Spence has very real physical flaws that make me think he’d struggle even if he did stay clean. The best pass-rushers in the league are either long or athletic. Spence isn’t either. It isn’t just about his 40-yard dash time. He didn’t show particularly good agility or explosiveness.
Only 3 players hit lower marks across the board than Spence (under 6’4″, 1st-4th round since 2005):
— Justis Mosqueda (@JuMosq) April 5, 2016
Of course there are exceptions to the rule. Terrell Suggs. Tamba Hali. But they dominated a high level of competition in college. Suggs had 24 sacks and 31 TFL in 2002. Spence didn’t even come close to those numbers against FBS competition. Shit, Spence wasn’t even the most dominant pass-rusher at FSC. (Check out Tyrone Holmes.)
A rule of scouting is to never judge on stats. I know the tape shows you a more active and productive player. The tape doesn’t tell you much if you’re looking at a player slumming it at a lower level of competition. A turtle can look fast against a bunch of other turtles. He won’t against a tiger. It’s like Danny Shelton having four sacks against Eastern Washington. That doesn’t matter. He didn’t even sniff the quarterback in the NFL. So, no, I don’t particularly care what Spence did against the Southwest Louisiana School of the Blind and Impotent.
In Spence’s case, he had one year against top competition. He was productive as a sophomore at Ohio State, but hardly dominant. He had sacks in seven different games but 2.5 came against teams who were a combined 2-22. Two more came against Penn State in a game Spence’s team won 63-14. He also had 1.5 sacks against the likes of Buffalo and San Diego State.
In 2015, he played two Division One schools and got sacks in both games, against 7-6 NC State and 5-7 Kentucky. We just don’t have any evidence that he can consistently produce against a high level of competition and his physical ability suggests he can’t.
And now, the red flags.
He didn’t just fail an ecstasy test. He failed two. Not pot, ECSTASY. And after that he transferred to Eastern Kentucky and got arrested for public intoxication, apparently throwing a beer bottle in the road last May. How much more stupidity do we need to see from this guy?
Spence and Robert Nkemdiche have been linked together because they’re both considered talented players with off-the-field issues. Thing is, Nkemdiche is worth the risk because he is actually a physical freak. Spence is an average athlete with a below average chance of success.
So please, Bears, don’t draft Noah Spence.