Should New Orleans Saints take risk on Noah Spence and his problematic past?

Eastern Kentucky edge defender Noah Spence, USA Today Sports
Eastern Kentucky edge defender Noah Spence, USA Today Sports /

The New Orleans Saints are an organization that strives for quality character. A talent like Noah Spence could be an ideal fit from a talent standpoint, but he’ll have to win them over with trust, as her is a player loaded with red flags.

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton is a no-nonsense kind of guy.  He strives for quality character football players to help make up his locker room.  If you cross him, you could be a goner (see Junior Galette).  If you have a bad rep, chances are, well, there likely will be no chance.

After watching teams, including the Saints, pass on cornerback Marcus Peters in the draft last year, the Kansas City Chiefs took a risk, and it paid off quite generously.  An NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award, a Pro Bowl selection, and a league leader in interceptions statistic will confirm that.  Several clubs are probably kicking themselves for that one.

We’ll have a similar situation in this year’s draft.  Chances are Eastern Kentucky’s Noah Spence will still be on the board when the New Orleans Saints are on the clock with the No. 12 overall pick in the first round.  From a talent standpoint, Spence seems to have everything you want from a pass rusher.  He’s arguably one of the top prospects in this loaded draft class.

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He showed his abilities at Ohio State before getting kicked out of school and banned from the Big Ten for repeatedly failing drug tests for substances far more complex than marijuana.  Eastern Kentucky took a chance on him in 2015, he stayed clean, and he shined.

Spence plays with a relentless motor and tremendous competitiveness, highlighted by ideal athleticism, explosiveness, and versatility at both defensive end and outside linebacker.  He’s one of the top players who really stood out at the Senior Bowl.  The New Orleans Saints could without question use a talent like him, but his very questionable past draws a lot of red flags.

Teams could use Marcus Peters’ scenario to approach the Noah Spence situation.  With incoming rookies who have had character issues, it’s all about finding a sense of trust.  The New Orleans Saints staff visited with Spence and took him out to dinner at the Senior Bowl for a better measure of character.

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In addition to analyzing his play on the field, the Saints will get their chance to meet with Spence again at the NFL Scouting Combine next week.  If Sean Payton and company like what they see, the New Orleans Saints could become a potential landing spot.  Spence is a playmaker, a game-changer.  He could be just what the Black and Gold are looking for on the defensive side of the ball, if (a big if) his past issues are no longer a concern.