clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2016 NFL Draft: Noah Spence prospect profile

Niners Nation's Greg Valerio is back with a scouting profile of Eastern Kentucky's defensive end/outside linebacker, Noah Spence.

A dominant force in the FCS at Eastern Kentucky, Noah Spence's journey to draft-eligible stardom has endured a rocky road. The former five-star elite high school prospect exploded on the scene with Ohio State showcasing his amazing pass rush talent bursting off the edge displaying explosion, quickness, agility, power, flexibility, and athleticism. The start of his collegiate football journey was on an exciting path towards greatness, but distractions along the way detoured his journey.

Unfortunately, Spence's rise at Ohio State ended abruptly after getting dismissed from the school and permanently banned from the Big Ten due to drugs (ecstasy). With the help of Urban Meyer, Spence was placed in a drug-treatment program, and ultimately ended up 3 hours down the road at Eastern Kentucky, again with the assistance of Meyer. Spence has since been clean and has dedicated his life to remain drug-free showing the willingness and maturity in overcoming his indiscretions; however, the red-flags from his past will still need to be addressed moving forward into the NFL.

The Basics:

School: Eastern Kentucky
Jersey No.: 9
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 251
Arm: 33"
Hand: 10 3/4"
40 Yard Dash: 4.80 [4.75*] (tied 8th for top DL performer in 40 YD Dash)
10 Yard Split: 1.61
Vertical Jump: 35" (tied 4th for top DL performer in Vertical Jump)
Broad Jump: 10'1" (tied 3rd for top DL performer in Broad Jump)
20 Yard Shuttle: 4.35 (ranked 8th for top DL performer in 20 YD Shuttle)
3-Cone Drill: 7.21 (ranked 9th for top DL performer in 3-Cone Drill)
Bench Press: 25
*Pro Day results

How the measurables translate for defensive end/outside linebackers:
When looking at the measurables for defensive end/outside linebackers, keep in mind of some minimum measurable targets defensive end/outside linebackers should be expected to target as a minimum result. For the most part, prospects exceeding these minimal targets tend to find success in the NFL.

Defensive Ends
40 Yard Dash - Minimum Target: 4.85
10 Yard Split - Minimum Target: 1.70
Vertical jump - Minimum Target: 33"
Broad jump - Minimum Target: 9'9"
20 Yard Shuttle - Minimum Target: 4.30
3-Cone Drill - Minimum Target: 7.35
Bench Press - Minimum Target: 24

Outside Linebackers
40 Yard Dash - Minimum Target: 4.70
10 Yard Split - Minimum Target: 1.65
Vertical Jump - Minimum Target: 36"
Broad Jump - Minimum Target: 9'9"
20 Yard Shuttle - Minimum Target: 4.10
3-Cone Drill - Minimum Target: 7.10
Bench Press - Minimum Target: 23

Do Your Homework:

Watch highlights of Spence against ValparaisoNC StateKentuckyPenn State (2013)Wisconsin (2013)Michigan State (2013)California (2013), and watch a highlight montage featured below:


  • A quick-twitch player that erupts off the line with impressive snap anticipation displaying tremendous first-step quickness with excellent bend off the edge covering ground quickly with terrific closing speed.
  • Decent pop at the point of attack using his hands effectively, quick to transition into his pass rush moves winning with tremendous speed and power.
  • Possesses great balance, body control (excellent leverage and dip), and impressive change of direction skills, where coming out of the arc from his bend he is able to adjust with ease and take advantage of his athleticism and power.
  • Displays the versatility to play in space showing fair awareness, fair coverage skills, and an excellent tackler in space.
  • High motor prospect flying around the field with his hair on fire. Gas tank is always full and the motor runs hot.
  • Utilizes great body control, quickness, and athleticism to side-step and/or slice through double and triple teams.
  • Versatility to line up on both the right and left edge winning on either side.
  • Scheme diverse can dominate in a 4-3 with hand in the dirt or stand up in a 3-4 setting the edge and rushing the passer.


  • Does not possess the 49ers ideal height and length for the position.
  • Needs to add more pass rush moves to the repertoire, would like to see more counter inside moves (ideally a spin move but he does have a nice inside swim move). Improving converting speed into power will also help his game.
  • Will get pushed around in the run game, will need to be more physical at the point of attack maintaining ideal leverage to avoid being driven back.
  • Possesses impressive snap anticipation; however, at times his gamble does not pay off leading to several bouts of encroaching over the line of scrimmage, or what I like to refer to as, the Ahmad Brooks syndrome.
  • Off-field concerns with history of drug (ecstasy) addiction.
  • Failed to impress athletically at the NFL Combine with a poor 40 (4.80) in comparison to NFL elite pass rushers, and reports of "very shaky" team interviews at the Combine in relation to discussing his banishment from the Big Ten and multiple failed drug tests.

NFL Comparison: Whitney Mercilus - Houston Texans

2015 College Stats: 63 tackles, 22.5 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks, 15 QB hurries, 3 forced fumbles, and 2 fumble recoveries.

Round Projection: 1st-2nd


If we have learned anything from watching the Super Bowl a couple of months back, it's that rushing the passer is imperative in order to have success in the NFL. It's a quarterback driven league, and the prime object of affection to combat those signal callers, are those that hunt them. Unfortunately, the 49ers are pretty much devoid of those elite hunters, besides the impressive Aaron Lynch; nevertheless, the 49ers lack of a pass rush last season, allowing a turnstile of quarterbacks sitting back with enough time to read Tolstoy's War and Peace, greatly reduced the effectiveness of the defense as a collective. It was a hot mess, and a huge problem that desperately needs remedied.

I am hopeful and eager to see year two of Eli Harold, but the position is in need of some solid bolstering. Aaron Lynch cannot do this alone, and Brooks is on thin ice getting thinner with every helmet toss (I do give mad props to Brooks for his resiliency though; his elusiveness of not getting cut is impressive). Tank Carradine will be an interesting project, and Corey Lemonier is in need of a lifeline. Adding Noah Spence into the mix could make things a lot more interesting, and his versatility to win on either side exploding off the edge with is eye-popping first step, can be a game changer. The question remains, will the 49ers take a chance on a "red-flag" prospect, especially after the whole Aldon Smith thingy. Trent Baalke is one to give deserving players a second chance, and with pass rush an area of concern for the 49ers, Noah Spence is a premier 34 edge outside linebacker prospect easily capable of filling the void the Niners currently lack with their pass rush.