In a conference call yesterday, ESPN's Mel Kiper addressed a whole lot of draft questions. You can listen to the full call here, but the most relevant bit for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers came when a New York Giants beat writer asked about edge rusher Noah Spence. The Giants pick tenth in this draft, one slot behind the Bucs, and they have many of the same needs -- including defensive end.
"In terms of Noah Spence, the interviews are going to be important," Kiper said. "Here's a guy who did it at Ohio State, he led the Ohio State Buckeyes and was second in the Big Ten in sacks, so he did it at the major college level as a young player, a true sophomore. Then he ends up at Eastern Kentucky and he goes out and dominates again. He was second on the team in tackles as well as having 22.5 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks, and he had a couple sacks against Kentucky out of the SEC.
"He's 6'2 1/2" 254 lbs. so he's bigger than Von Miller was coming out, Miller was 6'2 1/2", 245 lbs. We don't know what he'll run yet, but Miller ran 4.42[second 40-yard dash], had 21 reps [in the bench press] and had a 37" vertical. Let's see how close Spence is to those numbers. His uncle, Phil Spence, played on a national championship North Carolina State Wolfpack basketball team in 1974 with David Thompson, so great bloodlines there.
"You think about the tenth pick, the fifteenth, twentieth pick -- he's gonna go somewhere high. The interviews will be important for him, though. If you look at the Giants, a pass-rusher's what they need, if you're looking for other options. At that point from a pass-rush standpoint there's nobody that's in the mix with Noah Spence. At that point he's the only guy that would make a lot of sense as a combo defensive end/outside linebacker, and I think maybe that's why he gets pushed maybe than he would in a draft where you had a couple more options. You don't have any options with guys that can get after the passer at that particular point in the draft."
For Spence, this week is going to be crucial. This is where most of the teams will interview him, and where he can make the impression that his ecstacy use is behind him, and that his public drunkenness arrest was just a trivial incident. If he can do that, he wouldn't just be in play for the Giants: he'd likely be gone before they picked, if only because he's such a good fit with the Bucs.