Bucs’ second-round pick Noah Spence is a true student of the game. While at Ohio State and Eastern Kentucky, the 6-foot-2 defensive end would put in extra time on Friday nights by watching game footage and YouTube clips of his favorite NFL pass-rushers.
“I love Justin Houston and Cameron Wake,” Spence said Thursday. “Of course (I like) Von (Miller), but I really like Cameron Wake’s game – his get-off and his relentlessness.
“I would watch their highlights the night before a game. It would just give me a move and stuff like that – inspiration.”
Tampa Bay would be thrilled to land the next Houston or Wake or some type of combination in Spence.
In Kansas City, Houston has recorded 56 career sacks in 70 starts – including 22 sacks in 2014 – while Miami’s Wake has notched 70 quarterback takedowns in 100 games. Both players, who stand 6-foot-3, have also been a force against the run on defense and have a combined eight trips to the Pro Bowl.
But beyond numbers that light up a stat sheet or accolades that warrant Hall of Fame consideration, Spence can recall specific plays of theirs that have left a mark on him – moves that he’s tried to incorporate into his own game.
“I think he was against the Eagles,” Spence said. “(Houston), like, went inside five steps and then came back out to make the tackle. I was like, ‘Man, that was crazy.’”
Spence, who’s been working mainly at right end, though with certain “30-packages” calling for him to stand up, said the Bucs’ scheme fits his skill-set well. At this point he’s just trying to learn the details and build chemistry with the rest of the defense.
“We’re all just like a family,” Spence said. “There isn’t one (guy) in particular (that I follow), just everyone gives me little pointers and I can take something away from everybody.”
When asked about the feeling of dominating a game as a defensive end – which can ultimately be the difference in a win or loss – Spence said it’s all about momentum. In other words, it’s difficult to stop a pass-rusher once he gets in the head of the offensive tackle.
Or, as he put it, “Once you get him once or twice… that s— grows for the rest of the day.”