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Noah Spence

Discussion in 'Draft Talk' started by HardRightEdge, Mar 24, 2016.

  1. HardRightEdge

    HardRightEdge Cheesehead

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    We talked about Spence briefly in the Packer Visits thread, where I betrayed complete ignorance of this player. I decided to take a closer looker at this player to see why the Packers might have some interest.

    First, here's a detailed retelling of how he got booted from the Big Ten followed by his resurrection at Eastern Kentucky:

    http://www.foxsports.com/college-fo...ky-colonels-ecstasy-addiction-comeback-102015

    In summary, he got booted from the Big Ten for multiple positive Ecstasy tests. Evidently he was quite the party animal with an "untouchable" complex. On the other hand, there are some encouraging things noted in that Fox piece, particularly his insistence that he be placed on every drug test list while at Eastern Kentucky. He's stayed clear for a year, making him less of a risk than, for instance, a transcendental idiot or outright addict who gets busted at the Combine.

    The alcohol incident suggests Spence has not entirely given up his partying ways. Was it really just 2 glasses of wine? Or is alcohol his new drug of choice? That would certainly be an area to be investigated by anybody having an interest in him.

    So, what kind of player is he? On talent alone, he's a 1st. round pick. Here's the tape of his Kentucky game last season:



    He plays mostly hand-in-the-ground 4-3 DE in that tape, his leading position projection for the NFL. As we know, players of that type who are accomplished edge rushers also project as possible 3-4 OLB edge rushers in the NFL (as with Perry), while presenting a risk as to how he'll convert to a stand-up player (as seen with Perry). Spence shows snaps standing up on long yardage plays where he's allowed to sell out on the pass, and looks good doing it.

    What I really like in this tape is that Spence is not just a burst-and-dip edge rusher, though he's got a fair amount of that. He shows nice hand work getting off blocks. He's got a variety of moves. He's fairly disruptive here despite getting chipped and double-teamed with some regularity.

    His college coaches laud his coachability, no small thing, and the guy must have some native intelligence having been All-Academic Big Ten.

    The only question that remains is how far does he have to fall to compensate for the risk. I don't think it will be very far. If he got to the bottom of the 3rd. round and the Packers grabbed him, I would not cry, and might even cheer.

    Again being clean of drug issues for a year under more scrutiny than the mandatory tests suggests he's not your typical doper. The alcohol issue would be my chief concern; if the Packers have more than a casual interest they'll dig down on that.
     
  2. Vrill

    Vrill Cheesehead

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    He has always intrigued me. He was a 5 star recruit coming out of HS when he joined Ohio State. But his off field problems are a red flag. I wonder if TT would draft him or not. He is definitely a first round talent.

    Is he this years Randy Gregory?
     
  3. Patriotplayer90

    Patriotplayer90 Cheesehead

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    Maybe the Gregory incident will cause his stock to fall. No way he's worth the risk in the 2nd round. If he falls to the 4th, that's a different story.
     
  4. TeamTundra

    TeamTundra Cheesehead

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    He was pretty much unblockable at the senior bowl. I'm hoping he is still on the
    board when we make our second pick if the Packers feel he can stay out of trouble.
     
  5. HardRightEdge

    HardRightEdge Cheesehead

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    I don't think there's any question his draft stock is below his talent level because of his checkered history.

    However, Gregory and his ilk are in another category. Gregory is one of the transcendental idiots or addicts, whichever applies, to which I earlier referred. Gregory tested positive at the Combine. How does a player let that happen unless he's an idiot or an addict? That indicates a problem in progress at the time of the draft. Then Gregory busted out in the "program", getting hit with that 4 game suspension. Now it looks confirmed to be an addition problem, while not discounting he may also be a knucklehead.

    Spence played through last season, under intensive testing, without an issue, which indicates a meaningfully lower risk profile than Gregory. It's been a year and a half since he was banned by the Big Ten, and at least a year of testing clean.

    I still wonder about the alcohol, though, which in general doesn't get much attention, except when a player gets busted for a DUI. Alcohol is tested under the NFL protocols with a violation threshold below most state DUI levels, but it clears the system pretty fast allowing a problem to hidden. I don't think we expect NFL players to sit home at night knitting afghans. But a bona fine alcohol problem is a deal breaker.

    If there's a way to be confident his one alcohol incident was really a one-off involving 2 glasses of wine, then I would assess the risk as relatively low compared to other "character issue" guys. Just meeting with the guy can't be counted on to yield a foolproof assessment, but it might turn up an obvious red flag.
     
  6. Sky King

    Sky King Cheesehead

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    It is enjoyable to read the posts of those who follow the draft and college talent so closely. Thanks for the insight. But with my limited knowledge of individual college players in the draft my personal approach to prognostication can only be derived from the perceived immediate needs and the GM's demonstrated bias. Again, thanks to all for the insightful posts on the needs of the team.

    Raji is gone and Pennell will be suspended early-on, plus his long-term future may be shaky. They need help on the D interior line immediately. With TT's M.O. there seems to be only one sure way those vacancies will get filled. Boyd is a question mark after the injury and Ringo is a practice squad player who would have to make an epic jump to have a consistent impact. Our GM has been known to draft DL's and OLBs in the first round -- Matthews, Perry, Jones, Raji, Harrell. ILBs not so much. I'm not sure that Hawk really qualifies as an ILB since they were a 4-3 defense when he was drafted.

    On offense Sitton and Lang are creeping-up on twilight time. Tretter is too good at center to want to be a career backup at the position and he may be just a bit too small to be the long-term answer at guard or tackle (as a starter) anyway. The GM retained Lane and Rotheram for a reason. It's possible that his reason may be that he replaces one or both of the current guards in 2017 with one of those guys. And there is simply no way Barclay should be a piece of the puzzle at any position. His struggles last season did not help him increase his value to any NFL team. Walker has that classic "Looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane" persona. The team needs backups for sure and maybe even a couple of starter-quality players in the trenches this season, pending injury. Since our GM does not seem to put a premium on drafting guards early he may feel differently about grabbing a tackle on day-one, just as he had with Bulaga and Sherrod. He does not seem to put a premium on WR's or TE's, either. Second-round or later seems to be his preference for taking one of them.

    Every GM has to pick his poison, so to speak. TT can't assemble All-Pros across the board and he has historically favored certain positions over others. TT likes DB's, too, but that matter was resolved adequately last year (two guys lost, two guys picked early). That said, to me the front-runners for being the earliest picks would seem to weigh heavily in favor of interior linemen. It would not be surprising to me to see TT load-up on big guys on either side of the ball but especially on D. Picking an early-round plodder or a speedy flyweight at ILB seems highly unlikely to me, nor a guy who's injury may be career threatening.
     
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  7. captainWIMM

    captainWIMM Cheesehead

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    There´s absolutely no doubt in my mind that Spence´s tape would suggest him being a first-round pick. His off the field issues as well as his shaky interviews at the combine will most likely having him drop in the draft. I don´t expect him to be available at a point where Thompson would feel comfortable drafting him though.

    http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap30...if-i-can-trust-nfl-draft-prospect-noah-spence

    With Bakhtiari and Bulaga pencilled in as the starters at both tackle spots there´s no reason to draft a OT in the first round. The Packers need to add at least a decent backup for both positions later in the draft though.
     
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  8. HardRightEdge

    HardRightEdge Cheesehead

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    Well, if his Packer Combine interview was shaky, then that would be the end of that. If he gets one of the 30 local invites from the Packers to dig deeper, that would indicate something else. Given that Thompson is one of the more risk averse GMs in the league, he'd have to come to a cleaner assessment than those more inclined to roll the dice, as I already suggested. It's also worth noting this is the time of year when personnel guys might blow smoke and talk down a player off the record while having a actual interest.

    I like Mayock, but his analysis of Spence's Combine is a bit strange, doing a compare and contrast to Miller and Mack. Those were top 5 picks. Is he saying Spence's Senior Bowl performance suggested a top 5 talent, but his Combine does not?

    For Mayock, a guy who's tape first, Combine second, revist the tape third, you would have thought that as good as Spence's tape might be it does not match up with Von Miller's college tape in particular, which was truly special. Why not a comparison further down the food chain?

    As for the 4.8 time, that's not a particular liability for an OLB in Capers' defense. They hold the edge in the run game, rush in the pass game, and are rarely called upon to run downfield in coverage.
    I agree with that default position. Among the 3 starting O-Linemen + Tretter who are in their contract years, my view is Bakhtiari and Lang would be the priorities.

    The Thompson profile with respect to OGs is to draft college LTs who don't project particularly well to the position in the NFL. In these cases, you can get good athleticism for an OG (if not particularly good for OT), a fit for inside play in pass protection and the zone blocking scheme, lower down in the draft. Sitton, Lang, Tretter...all 4th. rounders in that profile.

    I'd look for one of these guys in the mid-rounds once again with the idea he'd be serviceable at OT as an injury replacement. Sitton, Lang and Tretter were all tried at OT at one point or another; that they did not quite make the "serviceable" level, particularly at LT, does not invalidate the formula.
     
  9. HardRightEdge

    HardRightEdge Cheesehead

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    I agree with much of that, and it's useful in looking at the high level picture. I have a couple points of disagreement.

    - As you noted, Thompson has in recent years spent more draft and cap capital at OLB than at any other position other than perhaps WR, suggesting a priority. No surprise there, given the importance of edge rushers. That's the point in discussing Spence...he projects as an OLB in this defense, with the #2, #3 and #4 guys at the position being in their contract years while also having age or performance question marks.

    - I don't see OT as a particular priority, as discussed in previous posts. The only way that would change is if the Packers think Bhaktiari will be unaffordable. An average starting NFL LT, as indicated by the #16 current contract at the position (Will Beatty), costs about $7.5 mil/yr. By next year it may be $8.0 or $8.5 mil.

    - You mentioned that Thompson does not put a priority on WR. I don't think the facts bear that out. Nelson, Cobb and Adams were 2nd. rounders, with Nelson taken at #36. Jennings was a 2nd. rounder, Jones a 3rd. rounder and most recently Montgomery was a 3rd. rounder. Looking at the Nelson and Cobb contracts, and the $8 mil/year Jennings turned down, Thompson is not shy about allocating cap to the position. All in all, he's spent a lot of draft capital and cap at the position even if not in the 1st. round.
     
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