5. Noah Spence
We begin our journey in the present.
The off-season prior to last year had a theme we are going to focus on. That theme was to get Gerald McCoy some help on the defensive line. We know the dominance of McCoy, but he also received a lot of double teams. He needed help. They found some in the form of Robert Ayers, signed out of free agency prior to the season.
On to the draft, and Noah Spence. Spence was dominant on the field, but had some problems off of it, getting kicked out of the Big Ten due to drug issues. Licht was high on him, even giving him a first round grade. When he had the chance to pick him with the 39th overall pick, he jumped at it. Licht got the man he wanted, Noah Spence.
Although Spence recorded his first sack in a week two loss against the Cardinals, he really started to come into his own later on in the year. November was his month. As the team got hot and made a playoff run, so did Spence. He posted 2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles, earning him Defensive Rookie of the Month honors. That included 1.5 sacks and five total tackles in a 14-5 slugfest win over the Seattle Seahawks.
5.5 sacks in one heck of a season for a rookie that people wondered about the character of. He has a long way to go to move up this list, but he certainly deserves to be on it, even after just one season.