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Noah Spence put through Pro Day drills by Buccaneers defensive line coach

Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had their defensive line coach putting edge rusher Noah Spence through drills at Eastern Kentucky's Pro Day today, according to Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times.

This isn't necessarily all that telling: someone has to put these prospects through their drills, and it ends up being a position coach in the NFL fairly often. The more interesting aspect is that Jay Hayes was there at all -- it signals some level of interest, especially given that Spence is essentially the only NFL-worthy defensive line prospect at that pro day.

Spence's college tape is outstanding, but he tested poorly at the combine -- at least in the 40-yard dash, which he ran in 4.8 seconds. The hope was that he'd do better at his pro day, but it seems not: according to Luke Rodgers of 247sports, he was timed running a 4.84-second 40-yard dash at his pro day today. Update: Tony Pauline says he tested at a 4.6 to 4.7-second 40-yard dash in poor conditions, which would be a lot better.

That's disappointing, but it's not necessarily a deal-breaker. He was still explosive in the other athletic tests at the combine, and he still looks fast on film. The question is whether the 40-yard dash time is indicative of athletic limitations that will show up in the NFL, or just an irrelevant test that has no implications for his NFL performance. Football Outsiders' SackSEER projection gives some weight to the 40-yard dash, but also takes into account the vertical jump, broad jump and three-cone drill -- all of which saw Spence excelling.

In the end, Spence is the best edge rusher to be likely to be available at the Bucs' number nine pick. Whether they select him will be up to two questions: whether they view his drug issues as behind him, and whether they see him as worthy of the ninth overall pick on the field.