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2016 NFL Draft Player Breakdown: Noah Spence

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The Dolphins put a major emphasis on defensive end this offseason, adding both Mario Williams and Andre Branch in free agency. With Dion Jordan’s future uncertain and Miami in need of young pass rushers, Noah Spence would be an obvious choice when the Dolphins select in the first round of the 2016 draft. With the 13th pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins select; Noah Spence, defensive end, Eastern Kentucky.

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Who is Noah Spence?

Born and raised in Harrisburg, Pa, Noah Spence played defensive end at Bishop McDevitt High School.  Over the course of his junior and senior seasons, Spence recorded 204 tackles and 35.5 sacks.  Rivals.com gave Spence a five-star rating and ranked him the number one defensive end heading into college.  Spence committed to THE Ohio State University, where he was Urban Meyer's first five-star recruit.  Here, as a true freshman, Spence contributed in twelve games recording 12 tackles and one sack.  The following year, Spence recorded 50 tackles and 8 sacks, a significant improvement from his freshman season.

On January 1st, 2014, Spence was suspended for three games due to drug use. He was suspended for the 2014 Orange Bowl, in addition to the first two games of the 2015 season.  It was later found out that the failed drug test was due to the drug Ecstasy.   Spence would fail another drug test, his second in 2014.  Later, he would be suspended indefinitely by coach Urban Meyer, forcing the defensive end to transfer to Eastern Kentucky.  During his lone season at Eastern Kentucky, Spence recorded 63 tackles and 11.5 sacks.  After the season, he announced his intent to enter the 2016 NFL Draft.

The Good

At 6’2, 251-pounds, Noah Spence could play defensive end or outside linebacker in the NFL. He is exceptionally fast off the line of scrimmage, using his hands to fight off enemy lineman.  Below, he successful utilizes both of these traits, landing a big hit on Hackenberg and forcing the fumble.

In the following clip, Spence beats the tackle immediately off the line of scrimmage.  With one continuous motion, he uses his quick feet to get the lineman off balance, sliding inside nearly untouched.  The result of the play is a tackle for loss.  Penn State's left tackle watches helplessly as he picks himself up from off the ground.

Spence is one of the best pass-rushers in this year's draft class.  He has exceptional speed, dipping and bending as he makes his way towards the quarterback.  As soon as the ball is snapped, Spence explodes off the line, using his quickness to gain the advantage.  During his rush, Spence uses his left hand to prevent the tackle from sustaining the block, resulting in a sack.

During the first rep of the game vs North Carolina State, Spence explodes off the line, beating the tackle on his way to the quarterback.  Spence uses his left hand to force the fumble, resulting in a significant loss.

Although he may not initially get to the ball, Spence is relentless in his pursuit.  He continues to fight until the play is over.  Here is a perfect example of his high motor.

The Bad

The major concern with Spence is his past drug addiction.  After failing a second drug test at Ohio State, Spence admitted to having an addiction to Ecstasy.  Since leaving the Buckeyes, Spence has been drug tested weekly.  He has remained clean, something he commented on during the combine.

"I think it's definitely huge for me. Especially with all my drug tests. (I'm) still being drug tested to this day," Spence said. "(I'm drug tested) every week now. I was on every drug-test list at Eastern Kentucky. After I failed at Ohio State I was drug tested twice a week until I left there.

Spence will have to find other ways to get to the quarterback in the NFL.  He primarily rushes from the outside, using his speed to outmatch his opponents.  This won't be nearly as easy to achieve against the league's best lineman.  Furthermore, Spence needs to develop an additional move or two.

In the run game, Spence must get better at setting the edge.  Too many times he gets washed away, making little impact against the run.  Additionally, if he is drafted by a 3-4 team, with the intention of him being an outside linebacker, he must improve in pass coverage.

The Skinny

Noah Spence was able to overcome adversity and quickly rebound after being suspended indefinitely from the Big-Ten conference.  Whether it be as an outside linebacker or defensive end, Spence has the skill-set to be a productive starter at the next level.  He’s relentless in getting to the quarterback, a tremendous pass rusher and he can hold his own against the run.  Spence is almost certain to be drafted in the first round and the Dolphins have met with him at both the combine and his pro day.  Whether or not the Dolphins draft Spence is anyone’s guess, however;  the only thing that can hold Noah Spence back is his off the field issues.  As long as he continues to overcome his demons, Noah Spence will have a successful career wherever he is drafted.

All clips were taken from draftbreakdown.com

This article was written by Josh Houtz.  Follow him on Twitter!