One of the more interesting prospects heading into the 2016 NFL draft is Noah Spence out of Eastern Kentucky, who has visits scheduled with the Green Bay Packers, New York Jets, Indianapolis Colts, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Baltimore Ravens, Jacksonville Jaguars, Arizona Cardinals & New Orleans Saints despite his problematic past.
In terms of talent, the defensive end who played for Ohio State before being banned from the Big Ten because of two positive tests for ecstasy, might be a top 15 pick in this draft. But with teams having issues with his past and the one year in exile with the Colonels in the OVC should drop him to the bottom of the first round or maybe a little bit later. All these meeting are about questioning to see if the concerns teams have about his lifestyle shouldn’t evaporate.
He was the defensive player of the year (shared) in the OVC, as he finished the season with 22.5 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks to go with 63 tackles, 15 quarterback hurries, three forced fumbles and a pair of fumble recoveries. It was enough for him to forego his junior year and enter the draft, hoping that one season with Eastern Kentucky is enough to bring back the interest in him. It seems half the league is certainly intrigued.
Playing at Ohio State in 2012 and 2013, he had a big sophomore year with 7.5 sacks and 14 tackles for a loss. However, he tested positive for a banned substance at the Big Ten title game and was suspended for the Orange Bowl and the first two games of 2014. Spence claims that seeing the Buckeyes win the national title after the 2014 season (he was banned from the Big Ten after testing positive again in September 2014) was a real turning point for him in terms of football. Some thought he’d declare very early for the draft, but he preferred rebuilding some of his on-field reputation.
It’s surprising the Cowboys and Bengals aren’t involved in going after him, being known for having a knack for troubled players, although the Bengals tend to do a much better job with them. However, the history of substance abuse (even if he is supposedly recovered) might mean some teams don’t want to get involved in recruiting and scouting him. Most mock drafts having him going late in the first round, with his talent and athletic ability possibly too difficult to pass up.