If you have ESPN insider, you should check out this article where ESPN lays out one "bold move" for each NFC team for the 2016 offseason. What move is suggested for the New Orleans Saints? Draft Eastern Kentucky's Linebacker Noah Spence #12 overall.
ESPN agrees that the Saints have the worst cap situation in football this offseason with plenty of holes to try to fill. To fill one of those holes with an impact player, they suggest the Saints look to the 2016 NFL Darft. Spence had a dominant year in 2015 for the Colonels, finishing with 11.5 sacks, 22.5 tackles for loss, and 63 tackles over just 11 games.
Unfortunately, Spence has his share of red flags too. Spence failed two drug tests, was kicked off of Ohio State's roster, and had to undergo treatment for an Ecstacy addiction. Would the City of New Orleans and the Bourbon Street lifestyle really be a good fit for Spence? Saints officials had better be sure during the interview process this week.
If the Saints view Spence as having gotten his life together, he could definitely be worth the pick. ESPN's Mel Kiper in a conference call addressed Spence specifically:
He's 6'2 1/2" 254 lbs. so he's bigger than Von Miller was coming out, Miller was 6'2 1/2", 245 lbs. We don't know what he'll run yet, but Miller ran 4.42[second 40-yard dash], had 21 reps [in the bench press] and had a 37" vertical. Let's see how close Spence is to those numbers. His uncle, Phil Spence, played on a national championship North Carolina State Wolfpack basketball team in 1974 with David Thompson, so great bloodlines there.
Even just being mentioned in the same sentence with Von Miller, especially after we just saw him wreak havoc on Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers offensive line in Super Bowl 50, is a huge compliment. We're talking about the type of player who could almost single-handedly transform the entire Saints defense.
It's completely possible this entire point is moot. The New York Giants are also known to be looking for pass-rushers this offseason, and the G-Men draft two spots ahead of the Saints at #10 overall. Maybe the Giants are the ones to take a flyer on Spence. Maybe he's taken even earlier. This is definitely at Top 10 talent we're talking about, and with players like Von Miller not coming around often, the Saints might be wise to strongly consider making Noah Spence the first Saints draft pick of the 2016 NFL Draft if he falls to them.
Make sure to stay tuned for combine updates, and we'll make sure to post Spence's performance along the way.