Noah Spence was perhaps the Tampa Bay Buccaneers biggest bright spot in their first preseason games, and that's not just my man-crush speaking. Bucky Brooks of NFL.com was very much impressed, naming Spence as the Bucs rookie who stood out in week one.
The energetic edge rusher didn't register a sack, but the second-round pick played a key role on a defensive line that registered four sacks against Philadelphia on Thursday. As part of the Buccaneers' first-string nickel package, Spence exhibited outstanding first-step quickness and burst while hounding the quarterback off the edge. Most impressively, he displayed the agility and hand skills to win at the line and create the kind of disruption that could make him a 10-plus sack guy down the road
Okay so, everyone noticed Spence apparently. That's a very good thing, of course, but we may be getting into overhype territory. After all, he's still a rookie, and he's still coming from a small college. There will be some necessary adjustment, and rookies have found it difficult to make a massive impact as a pass rusher in recent years. That's not to say it can't be done, but we may have to be a little careful about expecting too much from Spence.
Still, though, the Bucs haven't had a rookie pass-rusher who's looked like this in...well....I can't remember the last time, honestly. Adrian Clayborn didn't look anything like Spence -- he flashed some power and good hands, but didn't come anywhere close to Spence's explosiveness. He might be a little bit like Stylez G. White, the defensive end who came closest to a post-Simeon Rice ten-sack season, but White was an aging AFL veteran by the time he got to the Bucs.
So yeah. Excitement warranted, but let's wait and see whether he can do it in the regular season, too.