Let's begin by stating the obvious: The New York Giants are in desperate need of a pass rusher.
As of right now, the only edge rushers on the roster are Devon Kennard, Kerry Wynn, and Owamagbe Odighizuwa. Of the three, only Kennard can be considered a "proven" pass rusher. The Giants have a lot of work to do to rebuild the front seven of their defense and their once formidable pass rush.
Noah Spence of Eastern Kentucky -- and formerly of Ohio State -- could be the best edge rusher in the 2016 draft, and could very well be there for the Giants to take at 10th overall. But with a history of off the field issues and a disappointing combine take him out of consideration for the Giants' first selection?
- Explosive edge rusher. Spence might be the best edge rusher in the draft, and was immediately impactful as a rookie at Ohio State.
- Shows a strong combination of "bend and burst". He can bend around the edge and shows a good closing burst to finish plays.
- Versatility. Played mostly defensive end at Eastern Kentucky, but played as both a linebacker and defensive end for Ohio State.
- Long arms and big hands for his height give him a natural leverage advantage.
- Quick feet to navigate the crowd of bodies at the line of scrimmage.
- Off the field red flags are big and bright. History of drug use that resulted in his ban from Big 10 competition will need to be thoroughly investigated by NFL teams
- Not exactly a liability in run defense, but needs to keep developing his ability to stack and shed blockers.
- Disappointing combine work out raises questions about his athleticism.
Big Board Rankings
Big Blue View - 11th
Mocking The Draft - 19th
CBS - 22nd
Draft Tek - 21st
Does He Fit With the Giants?
There will be those who disagree with me, but I say "Yes."
It's a qualified "yes" and depends on if he has truly put his past behind him and matured as a man.
But from a purely schematic point of view, I believe he is a fit, and possibly a pretty natural one. Under Steve Spagnuolo, the Giants have shown a willingness to have a "multiple" defense, using a variety of alignments and packages out of both 4-3 and 3-4 fronts. Spags also had a stated desire to be more aggressive on defense, and Spence could be a potent weapon for the Giants' anemic pass rush.
I'm not overly concerned with his workout at the Combine. On tape Spence is a fast, agile rusher.
Spence has been saying all the right things, saying that he has been drug free for the last year and a half, and has gotten his life back on track. At the Scouting Combine he said,
"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."
"It was a group of people I can't hang with. I had to be more to myself and stay away from that party scene," Spence said. "I have a girlfriend now, we chill, we go to movies and stuff like that. I don't do much partying these days."
He showed well in the on-field portion of the Scouting Combine, performing smoothly in both the defensive end and linebacker drills.
And about that combine ... Spence's workout at the Combine was disappointing to say the least. His 10-yard split and bench press were representative, but his other drills were lack luster and his 4.80 40-yard dash was downright disappointing -- perhaps to Spence more than anyone else.
But Spence was just one of a number of prospects who ran surprisingly disappointing times at the combine. There had to be a reason, and Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net came through with a convincing one:
Immediately after the combine, I tweeted safety Darian Thompson was sick in Indianapolis, which factored into his poor workout on Monday. I've since been told it was not just confined to Thompson as multiple players as well as scouts, coaches and other NFL team personnel were afflicted with various stomach flues and viruses.
Reportedly, Spence was one of them, in addition to dealing with a "dinged" hamstring he suffered at the Senior Bowl. At his Pro Day, Spence reportedly ran in the 4.6's to mid 4.7's, despite a soaked field and rain, and still dealing some of the effects of the injury and illness.
At the time of the combine, I said that I didn't care about his 40 time, and I still don't. Hearing about an injury and rash of illnesses at the Combine helps explain his performance, and an improvement despite very adverse conditions helps to reassure me, but I don't especially care how fast an edge rusher can run 40 yards. The only time he will have to do that in the NFL is if he gets an interception with the opportunity to return it for a touchdown -- which you can't count on -- or has to chase down a broken play -- which you never want to see.
What I care about is how quickly a pass rusher can cover the five to 10 yards between himself and the quarterback, and that is something Spence does very well.