As ESPN continues their off-season NFL coverage, they dove into which player on each and every team has the most to prove. For the Buccaneers, that man was Noah Spence. Seems like a lot of pressure for a second round pick…
ESPN has put out a list of a players that have the most to prove during the 2016-2017 season for every team across the NFL. For the Buccaneers, that player is newly drafted defensive end Noah Spence.
The full article can be viewed here. This is what ESPN’s Mike DiRocco had to say on Spence.
"The Bucs’ second-round draft pick has way more to prove off the field than he does on it. He was booted from the Big Ten because of drug problems, and that caused him to drop into the second round despite being arguably the most talented pass-rusher in the draft. Though he was clean at Eastern Kentucky, Spence has to prove he can stay clean and won’t be an off-field problem."
Personally, I disagree with Mike DiRocco; Spence definitely had his slip ups at Ohio State but after he was kicked out and had to revitalize his career at Eastern Kentucky he became a different man.
Noah made sure to own up to his mistakes at the combine during interviews, and by all accounts it sounds like he has put his partying days behind him. He supplied every team in the NFL with his last 20 drug tests that dated back to May 2015 for teams to look at before the draft just so someone would give him a chance.
I think most of us can look back to when we were 18, 19, or 20 and recognize that we made mistakes because of immaturity. It’s really what you do after you make a mistake that shows what kind of person you are. Noah Spence had his new coach at Eastern Kentucky put him on every drug test list possible so he could prove to his family, coaches, fellow players, and possible future employers that he could stay clean. And guess what? He absolutely did, he passed every single drug test and has shown on a consistent basis that he turned his life around for the better.
This situation is actually eerily similar to what happened after the draft last year when the Bucs selected QB Jameis Winston with the first overall pick. Winston dealt with his fair share of issues in college, and many experts harshly criticized Tampa Bay for drafting him and basically declared him as a bust before he played a down. We know how that turned out, Winston had his ups and downs on the field where he finished with 22 TDs and 15 INTs but he ended up becoming the leader for this team and was named to the Pro Bowl. He also had no off the field issues and has handled the media attention marvelously. No longer do you hear the media bashing Jameis Winston or the Bucs, now everyone thinks they have a franchise QB and one of the brighter futures in the NFL.
Noah Spence is going to have the same opportunity, he should use all of this criticism for fuel and continue to put in the time on the field to become the best possible player he can be. The team needs a stud pass rusher, and he has the ability to develop into a star.
Maybe this time next year we’ll be talking about how a franchise quarterback and stud defensive end were able to overcome off the field problems that followed them from college to the NFL and turned their lives around as they both helped the Bucs become regular championship contenders.