Bucs Make the Case: Noah Spence vs. Robert Nkemdiche

Justin Pawlowski and Luke Easterling debate two players with the biggest character questions in this draft.

Noah Spence - Luke Easterling

Whether it’s in the first or second round, the Bucs might have to make a hard decision between talent and off-field concerns. If given the choice between Spence and Nkemdiche, the Bucs would be wise to play the positional depth of this class by taking Spence, who is the best pure edge rushing in the draft. Despite his drug issues at Ohio State, Spence has bounced back and kept himself out of trouble for more than a year, passing drug tests and even asking for additional ones to prove he’s moved on. On the field, he looked like a future star for the Buckeyes, then dominated lower-level competition at EKU in 2015. This year’s EDGE class is extremely thin, especially compared to the interior DL class, which is by far the deepest position group in the entire draft. Nkemdiche’s natural talent is tempting, but taking Spence and then addressing defensive tackle in the following rounds would be the better course for the Bucs.


Robert Nkemdiche - Justin Pawlowski

This really isn't a debate. Spence has far more character concerns than Nkemdiche has ever had, and far less natural talent than Nkemdiche as well. That's no knock on Spence. Nkemdiche is a rare talent who hasn't scraped the surface of his potential quite yet. Yes, he took plays off in college, and yes, he fell out a hotel window and fell 4 stories, but the dominant plays matched the plays he took off, which forces the hand of one NFL team. Are you confident in your coaching staff and locker-room to tap into Nkemdiche's unlimited potential? For the Bucs, they brought in Mike Smith to run their defense and Jay Hayes to coach up their defensive line. If any team has the ultimate confidence in their coaching staff, they should take Nkemdiche and worry about the ramifications later. Could he be a bust? Of course. Spence could be a bust too, along with 50-60% of the other players in this draft as well. If Nkemdiche's not a bust, you might have just drafted one of the best positional players to enter the NFL in the past 5 years.


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