Is Noah Spence worth the gamble?
Noah Spence’s ability makes him perfect for the Atlanta Falcons, who are searching for more pressure on the quarterback after registering just 19 sacks in 2015.
Last year’s eighth overall pick, Vic Beasley, put together a solid but unspectacular rookie campaign. He managed just four sacks on the year, but played much of the season with a torn labrum in his right shoulder.
On talent alone, Spence would arguably be selected inside the top-ten of the draft’s opening day. Unfortunately for the Eastern Kentucky product, there are some major red flags which could cause his stock to fall dramatically.
Spence was kicked out of Ohio State after failing multiple drugs tests. This is a pretty big deal. In the NFL, a player’s best ability is availability. It doesn’t matter how talented you are, if you’re going to wind up with a number of suspensions, teams won’t bother looking in your direction.
Much of Spence’s draft process will have been trying to convince teams he has put his off-the-field issues behind him and is committed to putting an excellent product of football on the field. His combine interviews and team visits will all play a major role in team’s opinions on him.
We have no way of knowing with any certainty what each team took away from their meeting with Spence, so it’s impossible to know exactly where he could fall. All it takes is one team picking in the top-15 to believe he’s changed his ways to take the risk. What if the Bears were impressed with his maturity in his interview and take a flier on him?
Anything is possible, but given the uncertainty of his off-the-field issues, it’s fair to assume Spence will drop into the bottom of the first round at the very least.
Spence’s name will likely be called late on day one or early day two. This is where it could get interesting for the Falcons. If Dan Quinn believes Spence’s off-the-field issues are behind him and won’t be an issue in the NFL, the Falcons could in theory move down in the draft, select the pass rusher and add additional picks later in the draft.
From a talent standpoint, Spence would likely offer more than any player Atlanta could land with the No. 17 pick. Not only would they acquire extra selections in the process, but would also go a long way to fixing one of the biggest needs on defense.
Of course, there’s a reason why Spence could fall so low in the draft. Who knows whether he’ll be able to stay clean and suspension-free at the next level. That’s the gamble one NFL team will soon make.
Would you roll the dice?