We are now just two weeks away from the start of the 2016 NFL draft. The first round starts on April 28. Ted Thompson and the Green Bay Packers should have a number of options available at pick No. 27 in the first round.
One of those options might be edge rusher Noah Spence of Eastern Kentucky. Spence started his career at Ohio State before he ran into some off the field issues. Spence twice tested positive for the drug ecstasy which led to his departure from Columbus.
Before he left, the 6’2″, 251-pound Spence started all 13 games in 2013 for the Buckeyes, when he had 52 tackles, 14.5 tackles for a loss, eight sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
After sitting out a year due to transfer rules, Spence played for Eastern Kentucky in 2015 and continued his stellar play on the field. He had 63 tackles, 22.5 tackles for a loss, 11.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
Spence also had an off the field incident at his new school. He was arrested in May of 2015 for alcohol intoxication and second-degree disorderly conduct, but the incident was expunged from his record after some community service.
There is no doubt that Spence has a ton of talent when he is on the football field, but his poor decisions off the field certainly put up a red flag.
Still, a number of teams, including the Packers, have met with Spence. According to reports, Spence has been accountable for his actions to teams who have interviewed him and is trying to change his life and correct his problems.
I wanted to get a read on Spence from NFL scout Chris Landry. Landry has given Spence a 6.4 grade, which equates to an early 2nd round value. It’s important to know that Landry has only 19 players in this draft with first-round grades, while he has 62 players with second-round grades.
I talked to Landry on Wednesday on 620 WDAE’s Steve Duemig Show. Spence played defensive end in college, so he certainly could be a fit in a 4-3 scheme as a DE, but he also has the ability to be a 3-4 outside linebacker.
“Noah Spence is a guy who could absolutely have some consideration in the first round when you start to have the first round grades go off the board,” Landry said. “I see him a 4-3 guy, but I think he can rush from a two or three-point stance. High-motor guy.
“He reminds me a bit of Whitney Mercilus. He doesn’t have great ability at the point of attack. I think he could be a good 3-4 rush backer. Really, with all the teams, even the 3-4 teams, they play 4-3 in nickel or pass rush.
“To me, he’s going to be a good pass rusher. He’s had some issues off the field. Failed drug tests. He didn’t have a great interview at the combine with teams, but I think everyone’s going to have to do their due diligence.
“Somebody like Seattle, who doesn’t have a problem with taking guys like that. Watch a team like that perhaps later in the first round for somebody like Noah Spence.”
Ironically, the Seahawks have the 26th pick in the first round this year, which is right before the Packers select with pick No. 27. What’s interesting to note however, is that the Seahawks are not among the 17 NFL teams who have met with Spence.
There are three teams besides the Packers who have selections late in the first round and who have also met with Spence. That would be the Kansas City Chiefs (pick No. 28), the Arizona Cardinals (pick No. 29) and the Carolina Panthers (pick No. 30).
So, do I think I think it’s possible that the Packers might select Spence with the 27th pick of the draft? Well, I think it is possible, as do believe the Packers will be targeting a player who can help their Front 7 on defense.
That being said, Thompson and the Pack should have a number of options available with their pick who can help that particular situation with their defense.
Other players who I believe the Packers are interested with the 27th selection include LB Darron Lee (Ohio State), LB Reggie Ragland (Alabama), DL Jarran Reed (Alabama), DL Vernon Butler (Louisiana Tech), DL Kenny Clark (UCLA) and DL Andrew Billings (Baylor).
Plus, if the verdict come through on the positive side with linebacker Jaylon Smith’s (Notre Dame) medical re-check this week, then he too would be a possibility at pick No. 27.
Bottom line, while I do think the Packers would consider taking Spence at No. 27, I also believe that there will be other options available at that point which would yield similar talent and also much less of a risk off the field.