New Orleans Saints 2016 NFL Draft Profile: Noah Spence

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

Eastern Kentucky defensive end Noah Spence, who we profile today in preparations for the 2016 NFL Draft, offers high upside as a pass rusher on the field, but are the New Orleans Saints wiling to take a gamble on a potential problem off of the field?

The New Orleans Saints have already expressed a deep interest in acquiring a pass rusher during the upcoming selection process, so we continue our draft profile series with Noah Spence, a competitive, high-motored talent out of Eastern Kentucky.

Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 251 LBS
Arm length: 33 inches
Hands: 10 3/4 inches

Combine results:
40-yard dash: 4.80 seconds
Bench press (225 LBS): 25 reps
Vertical: 35 inches
Broad jump: 121 inches (Top performer)
3-cone drill: 7.21 seconds
20-yard shuttle: 4.35 seconds

Noah 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.

However, his scouting combine results both in the drills and in the interview room lacked.  Spence also leaves much to be desired in the length department for an ideal defensive end.  Improvements can be made in other areas as well, such as play strength and hand usage.  A good coaching staff could easily fix that.

While he still offers tremendous upside on the field, he was the center of controversy after getting kicked out of Ohio State for a drug problem before making his was to EKU.  He seems to have cleaned up his act, but he still carries red flags for teams that appreciate quality character makeup.

Watch Noah Spence constantly get into the backfield against Kentucky:

How he fits with the New Orleans Saints:
The Saints, who reportedly have a scheduled visit with Noah Spence, are undoubtedly in need of an additional pass rusher, a potential starter who could play opposite Cam Jordan in an attack role to pressure opposing quarterbacks.

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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 may be no chances.

Noah Spence 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.

The Saints could use the Marcus Peters’ scenario to approach the Noah Spence situation.  Teams passed on Peters, 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.

With a visit with Noah Spence on the agenda, there is obviously an interest.  A meeting with the past troublemaker says a lot.  Are the Saints willing to look past all that?  There’s a very good chance Spence’s name is called on day one of the draft, but the second round is still a possibility.