|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|
|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|
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.