Noah Spence Breakout Season?
Noah Spence has had an odd start to his career. Drafted in the second round of the 2016 NFL draft, the edge rusher was immediately looked on to break Tampa Bay’s double digit sack curse. Spence was compared to Von Miller and the only reason he didn’t get drafted into the first round was due to off field issues that I won’t get into. Spence started at Ohio State, playing alongside of Joey Bosa. Spence was clearly more talented and athletic and seemingly the best player on that Defense. But those off field issues forced him to transfer to Eastern Kentucky. It’s easy to say now, but if Spence never had those off field issues, he could’ve been drafted in the top 5, instead of the second round. Fast forward to 2019, Spence hasn’t even reached 10 sacks in his career thus far. His rookie year he showed a lot of potential and flashed elite. He even dislocated his shoulder and popped it back into place himself, mid game. But that led to continuous shoulder injuries and some believe that’s the reason for his lack of production.
I however disagree. His lack of production was lack of coaching and his position. Spence weighs around 250 pounds and your average 4-3 EDGE normally will weigh 270-280 pounds. Spence is a speed rusher, similar to how Von Miller plays. Uses his speed to bend around the tackle to get to the quarterback. In a 3 point stance, it’s a lot more difficult to do.
Enough about what the previous coaches screwed up, now the Buccaneers have Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles. Bowles is known for blitzing and disguising those blitzes. Spence is a very athletic player and can definitely drop back into coverage occasionally. Spence fits perfectly and going into week 4 of the preseason, the edge of the 3-4 defense looks so natural for him. I mean, it shouldn’t take a rocket scientist to know that’s where he was meant to play from the jump. And now he’s working with the best front 7 that the team has seen in years, definitely the best since he’s been in the league. Acquisitions such as Ndamukong Suh and Shaquil Barrett will certainly be there to help, along with returning first round pick, who started to wreck havoc the ladder part of the year, Vita Vea.
If Spence can stay healthy, with this defensive line and the scheme fit, we potentially could see Spence have a breakout year. Whether that’s 8 sacks, 10 sacks or even 15 sacks.