Noah Spence was a five-star recruit from Bishop McDevitt HS in Harrisburg, PA. Rivals ranked him the number 1 weakside defensive end in the 2012 class and 9th overall. Spence received offers all across the country including the top programs in Alabama, LSU, Florida, Notre Dame, but decided on attending Ohio State. After three seasons with the Buckeyes, Spence was suspended indefinitely for a second failed drug test testing positive for ecstasy. He was ruled permanently ineligible by the Big Ten. He underwent treatment for an addiction to ecstasy and decided to transfer to Eastern Kentucky University to complete his college education and career with the Colonels. He enters the 2016 NFL Draft as one of the top edge rushers.
|DOB||1994||Bench (225 lbs)||25|
|Weight||251 lbs||Broad Jump||10’1″|
|Arms||33 in||20 Yard Shuttle||4.35 sec|
|Hands||10.75 in||3 Cone Drill||7.21 sec|
|40 Yard Dash (10 yd split)||4.8 sec (1.65 sec)||60 Yard Shuttle||DNP|
Stats and Awards
|Ohio State University (2012-2014), Eastern Kentucky University (2015)|
|2015 – 63 tackles (22.5 for loss), 13.5 sacks||AP FCS All-American, Ohio Valley Conference Co-Defensive Player of the Year|
|2014 – Suspended||N/A|
|2013 – 50 tackles (14.5 for loss), 8 sacks||First-Team All-Big Ten by media, Second-Team All-Big Ten by coaches|
|2012 – 12 tackles, 1 sack|
- Small size and arm length. Not a prototypical build for an outside linebacker.
- Good nose for the football, good at read-and-reacting to process play on handoffs.
- Gap shooting defensive end who played both standing up and in a three point stance.
- Lined up as wide 9, or 7-tech in 4-3 defense for Eastern Kentucky. Occasionally lined up in 3-tech, but is not big enough for that in the pros.
- Cut blocks were ineffective against him. Good at using hands to keep blocker away from him.
- Snap-reading, tries to anticipate snap and jumps into the neutral zone a fair bit. Needs to get better at timing.
- Fights through blocks in run defense, but if good run blocker gets hands on chest plate then he has hard time shedding block.
- Relies on speed to get around edge. Many of his sacks came from being faster off the snap than offensive lineman could turn to box him out.
- High effort player and aggressively fights for sacks and pressures on QBs.
- Great shoulder dip and ability to turn the corner on edge rush.
- Used a dip-and-rip move, speed double-swipe, and inside swim move as his main three moves.
- Needs to develop better counter moves (spin, in particular) to make exterior speed rush even stronger.
- Quick off the snap, but does not possess elite level quickness. Actually was more impressed with his burst off of line while watching his 2013 tape.
- Washed out in run defense. Sometimes chose to run around the block rather than taking it head on.
- Would benefit from starting as a situational pass rusher his rookie year.
- Little to zero experience in pass coverage. Will need to show his ability in space in Combine drills.
- Ideal fit would be as a weakside 3-4 outside linebacker where he could pass rush and not worry about run defense.
- Extremely competitive. His passion and effort shows on tape.
- How he interviews will define him in this draft with the addiction to ecstasy and then the public intoxication charge in May 2015.
This article is broken into two pages: (1) Scouting report and Pass Rush; (2) Run Defense and Pro Comparison.
To write this piece I watched three games from his 2015 campaign: Valparaiso, NC State, Kentucky. As well as Spence’s 2013 games versus Michigan State and Wisconsin while he was still playing for the Buckeyes.
Note: Spence wore #9 at Eastern Kentucky. I did not make GIFs from his 2013 tape.
Standing at 6’2-5/8 with only 32″ arm length (Senior Bowl measurements), Spence does not have ideal size. To make up for this, Spence uses his burst off of the line and edge rushing ability to beat offensive tackles for sacks and pressures on quarterbacks. His best move by far is his edge speed rush where he dips around the tackles.
Playing at Eastern Kentucky for his Senior year, and being suspended for the 2014 season (ecstasy addiction), he didn’t have the best working tape in terms of quality opponents. Ironically, when I threw on his 2013 tape I was even more impressed as he performed just as well against top tier opponents as he did against the weaker Ohio Valley conference.
The first play shows a phenomenal speed rush where he dips his inside shoulder expertly to avoid the block, while the second is a perfect example of the full dip-and-rip technique to the outside. The third example is double-swipe move that allows Spence to get into the backfield immediately.
To pair with his outside speed rush, Spence uses an inside swim move when lining up on the edge. He starts pushing the blocker outside, which opens the gap between the tackle and the guard wide enough for him to slip through and pressure the quarterback. The downside of this move, however, is that you lose run contain on the edge, so really it can only be used in pass-only situations.
Additionally, in the second and third plays, the tackles get beaten badly that it forces the running back to block him as well. This talent allows other pass rushers to get one-on-one opportunities even if Spence can’t make the play himself.
Where does his pass rush fail? Spence relies on his ability to shake blockers in space. Spence doesn’t have the strength (nor the technique) to chop hands off of him if a blocker gets his hands on him early. Additionally, Spence is quick, but he’s not Vic Beasley quick from the 2015 NFL Draft class. This means that a blocker that rides him outside will nullify his pass rush.
Normally, a defender that has this happen to him will counter with an inside spin move, but Spence only showed me that move once or twice in all the games I watched. Just ask Dwight Freeney about his spin move!
The one trait that I absolutely love about Spence though is that if a quarterback is near him, he will fight and fight to get to the quarterback. He is not content on being blocked when the QB is in sight. Here he is blocked well, then loops through the open gaps between the blockers to chase the quarterback out of the pocket. He showed this second-level effort in every game I watched.