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.
“(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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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!
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.”
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.
I think the coaches view both Ayers and Gholston as inside and outside D-line…so they may keep an extra guy or two.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The names we recognize but that doesn’t put any of them, except GMC, in the NFL top 100 or be considered Pro Bowl candidates. We have have these comparatively average players making the 53 mostly because they’re all we have from which to choose. Hopefully Smith stays healthy, Jones develops, Ayers continues his late bloom, Spence shows his potential, and Gholston improves his pass rush.
Lot of hoping right there scu!!
Correct, scubog. There is hope, but not one player on the roster has ever had 10 sacks in a season. So like every summer before the pads come on there is a lot of daydreaming about potential with little history to back it up.
Good point scubog. I think our players are above average, but not by much. In IMO I think that having guys are pretty good can work. Keep them fresh and rotate to their skills and I think we can get to a pretty decent sack total.
This weekend I watched a pretty average bunch of hitters destroy the rays. Hard work and persistance will over come not having a super star.
Not having Lovie calling Defense alone improves our D line IMO. Not trying to be overly negative or keep beating a dead horse, but my god he was awful. I think Mike Smith will do better job of using players to their strengths and until N.Spence develops,we build more depth etc., it will likely mean more blitzing than last year. Hopefully M. smith won’t be so stubborn if something isn’t working (playing 12 yards off WR’s!) and try other things. I have high hopes for Spence, but almost all elite DE’s needed year or two to adapt and shine in the NFL. Unless maybe you are JJ Watt it just doesn’t happen. I still think he will flash at times and make some plays, but he will also have games where he’s invisible. Just the way it goes in NFL. Overall on paper it looks like the best D line we have had in a while if everyone stays healthy and no huge “busts”. Never thought Michael Johnson would be so ineffective here……or George Johnson. No more johnsons please.
Scubog great point on Gholston. He’s so strong and so good against the run maybe Hayes can improve his pass rushing. He would be a very valuable DT or DE if he could do both and get more pressure consistently.
Dunlap has 3-4 inches over Spence and that is the only concern I have with Spence; will he be man handled on the running plays? You all know my position about the DL so I am waiting until we can see them in action. As much as I have support Gholston his 4 seasons I don’t see him improving. We have gotten the best out of him as we can; same for Smith. We need Spence to be exceptional not common. We don’t know either if Ayers will produce here; surely we understand that most of these veteran pick ups over the years don’t produce as expected. Go Bucs!
Yes devashar, that’s exactly what I’m saying, how did you know? Now if I could only figure out what you are trying to say.
Good luck with your roundball game.
We’ve had an influx of talent on the DL. Perhaps more impactful though will be the improvement in our secondary. The extra 2-5 seconds the coverage will buy us will have a huge impact on our QB hits/hurries. Wishful thinking at this point but I see a lot of promise
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