Every year, SB Nation holds an NFL writers mock draft. With the Tampa Bay Buccaneers picking ninth this year, I didn't have a lot of great options. The top players were already and unsurprisingly off the board: no surprising drop of Jalen Ramsey, Joey Bosa or DeForest Buckner for me. I could have gone with Ronnie Stanley, taking a good player who wouldn't fit much of a need, or settled for Vernon Hargreaves -- a potential impact player, but also someone with athletic limitations.
Instead, I went for a homerun. To me, when you have a top ten pick, you need to try to get a special player. Oftentimes, that's the only way you can get a player like that. And rarely are those potentially game-changing players without risk. I can handle a top ten bust -- they happen all the time, even in so-called safe players. What I can't handle is settling for a safe but mediocre player.
So I picked Eastern Kentucky's Noah Spence, arguably the best pure pass-rusher in the draft, and also the one with a giant helping of off-field baggage.
Dan Kadar thinks it's a risky but potentially good pick.
Whatever team takes Spence will have to get comfortable with the off-field issues that got him kicked out of Ohio State. But if you purely look at Spence on the field, he's a sensational player. He was stellar as a freshman at Ohio State, continued that at Eastern Kentucky and starred during Senior Bowl practices. He can be a good pass rusher early in his career, as long as he keeps on the straight and narrow. It's a risk, but potentially a good one.
Head on over to Mocking the Draft for my justification of this pick. And let us know what you think.