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.
Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org