Much like first-round pick Vernon Hargreaves III has impressed fellow cornerbacks early on in OTAs and mandatory minicamp, the Bucs second-rounder, Noah Spence, has also grabbed the attention of a few veterans at his respective position.

Speaking before practice last Wednesday, both Robert Ayers and Clinton McDonald had high praise for Spence, who’s taken more snaps in the early summer-absence of Jacquies Smith. McDonald even went as far to say the Eastern Kentucky product brings a certain “X factor” to the defensive line.

SpenceCampIMG_6198“(Spence) also brings excitement and a rare talent that, in these days, younger guys don’t really possess,” McDonald said. “He’s a different type of guy. He’s fast, he’s agile and he plays multiple positions.”

Added Robert Ayers: “That cat has a lot of ability and he’s willing to learn,” he said. “He’s making mistakes like all of us, but he has the want-to and the ability. I personally feel like the sky is the limit.”

Asked if he’s helping to speed up Spence’s development, Ayers said he doesn’t consider him his protégé because he’s learning just as much from Spence as Spence is from him.

As for the defensive line unit as a whole, they’re learning under coach Jay Hayes, who joins Tampa Bay after an impressive 13 seasons with the Bengals.

McDonald knows Hayes from his first two years in Cincinnati and believes the seasoned coach is the right guy to maximize young talent, in this case Spence. He pointed to the development of Bengals’ defensive end Carlos Dunlap, who Hayes coached for six years and helped to make into a double-digit sacker in 2015, as validation.

“I think coach Hayes is the best coach to coach (Spence). You can look at his track record,” McDonald said. “Go back to Cincinnati, where he had Carlos Dunlap, a guy a lot of people said was going to be trouble coming out in the league or thought he wasn’t going to last long. But Carlos Dunlap has made a great career for himself, and I think it has a lot to do with coach Jay Hayes.”

As McDonald briefly mentioned, Dunlap, a former Gator, was the subject of wide criticism coming out of college – where he played under Urban Meyer and saw off-field concern drop him into the second round of the draft. Sound familiar?

It’s an interesting parallel between Dunlap and Spence, one that goes beyond being gifted pass rushers with high potential. It also gives another reason to believe that, like Dunlap, Spence is under the right position coach to get the most out of his ability.

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About the Author: Zach Shapiro

Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders. Contact him at: zshapiro12@gmail.com
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BucWild02
BucWild02
4 years ago

I think the Bucs are finally deep at DE. Maybe too deep. Who do you cut? Ayers, Spence, Gholston, & Jacquis Smith are locks to make the team while Johnson, Jones, and Brown provide wild card depth. Thats 7 DE’s. Probably only keeping 5 or 6.

makski
makski
Reply to  BucWild02
4 years ago

Who do you cut?? That’s easy. Whoever plays the best out of your last 3, Johnson, Jones and Brown, stays, the other 2 go. My guess might be on Johnson right now. I think the MUCH BETTER coaching will help him out the most. Hate to break it to you, but, no one will be mistaking Johnson, Jones or Brown for solid starting DE’s. They are all back-ups for a reason. Hopefully it clicks for 1 or 2 of them this season in the new scheme with better coaches.

scubog
scubog
Reply to  makski
4 years ago

There are 10 players noted as DE’s. Probably keep only 5 and 4 DT’s. And of course there’s the Practice Squad for which a few qualify. I thought Howard Jones made a good showing considering his limited opportunities. Make my 5, Smith, Gholston, Jones, Ayers and Spence with Brown on Practice Squad. Of course injuries will play a part.

ayron54
ayron54
Reply to  makski
4 years ago

Makski, not sure the coaching on the D line is that extreme bro. Coach cullen is apparently one of the best in the league! I can possibly see improvement in our D line stats this coming year but that could be from MUCH BETTER play and coaching from our secondary. Go bucs!

devasher
devasher
Reply to  BucWild02
4 years ago

Johnson. You cut Johnson. And Brown. I could see Jones making it. And there is no such thing as “too much depth.” That’s like saying an offense scored “too many points.”

cobraboy
cobraboy
Reply to  BucWild02
4 years ago

You don’t cut Jones. Speed off the corner like that is nearly impossible to find. Additionally, seems some 3-4 may be coming in situations.

Would be difficult to sneak Brown onto the PC.

Not sure Johnson is eligible for PC.

kegan
kegan
4 years ago

I think the coaches view both Ayers and Gholston as inside and outside D-line…so they may keep an extra guy or two.

chetthevette
chetthevette
4 years ago

I seem to remember PR citing lack of depth on D line. Maybe not so much. Over on Sports Illustrated’s Buc site they have a good article about TFL. Ayers is prominent in it as someone who can harass the QB.

drdneast
drdneast
4 years ago

Wonder what happened to George Johnson last year.
Noone was expecting him to be the second coming of Lee Roy Selmon or Simeon Rice, but if he had just matched his sack total from the previous season (6) that would have been nice.
Instead he was relegated to second string midway through the season and replaced by Will Gholston.
Would Pewter Report like to get to the bottom of Johnson’s MIA last year.

devasher
devasher
Reply to  drdneast
4 years ago

So what you’re saying is: If George Johnson only matched his career high in sack from the year before. The only sacks he has ever had in 6 years in the NFL, he would be fine. Sure. And if I could only make every 3 point shot I attempted like that one time at the YMCA I could be a professional baskeball player too.

fredster
fredster
4 years ago

Not sure you can say we are deep at DE or DT? More potential than last year? Yea, that’s fair. Ayers had a good season last year hopefully that happens in Tampa too. Spence has potential. Gholston, and Spence both pretty average and while Smith flashed some last year he’s undersized and yet to prove he can stay healthy. Will see what happens but I’m not getting overly optimistic. It looks better on paper but I’ve said that before…..hell even our best D lineman McCoy can’t stay healthy and was invisible lots of games last year.

scubog