The Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Illinois defensive tackle Akeem Spence after trading up for him in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL Draft. The Bucs gave up a fourth- and sixth-round pick for him, meaning they must see something in Spence they really like.
There are some things to like about Spence. He's strong and active in the run game, has extensive experience playing nose tackle in a 4-3 and is built very similarly to former Bucs defensive tackle Roy Miller. In fact, he looks a lot like a Roy Miller clone: a stocky nose tackle who is active in the run game but doesn't really do anything as a pass rusher. Miller was a third-round selection for the Bucs in 2009.
Let's go to our Illini blog Champaign Room to figure out what he was in college
Spence has good size for a defensive tackle, but can also move that size. Uses hands and strength to knock linemen off-balance. Is a good tackler and is sturdy in the middle, not easy to move out of the way which lets him serve as a disruptive force in the run game.
Does not bring much to the pass-rush. While he has good lateral movement for a player his size, that speed does not translate toward north-south. He also does not have a quick first step off the ball, relying more on his strength than quickness. Needs to stay lower.
That sounds exactly like Roy Miller, and that's probably how the Bucs view him, too. Whether he'll step right in remains to be seen, though, and he will initially compete with Gary Gibson and Derek Landri at nose tackle. The issue I have with that is that in the scheme the Bucs run, they already had two players who could easily serve as run-stuffing nose tackles in Gary Gibson and Derek Landri, and both of them probably bring more to the table as pass-rushers.
To be fair, this pick makes a little more sense if we take the long view. Gary Gibson will be 31 when the season starts and won't be around much longer, while Derek Landri isn't much more than a journeyman either. This would at least give the Buccaneers a possible starting nose tackle for the next couple of years, which has some value. Unfortunately, they forgot that the issue they had on defense was not stopping the run, but stopping the pass.
Could the Bucs have found someone who would have given them a better pass defense, then? Well, someone like defensive end Alex Okafor or Cornelius Washington certainly would have done more for their pass rush than Akeem Spence at this point.
Add to that the fact that the Bucs gave up too much in the trade, and I just don't like this move. The Bucs gave up a sixth-rounder, and by most relevant trade charts (see here for a quick calculation machine) based on actual historical values of draft picks the Bucs gave up 20% to even 42% of a premium to trade up. That's a hefty price to give up for a one-dimensional run stuffer.