Akeem Spence: Solid StarterJuly 1st, 2013
If one is to just go by numbers on a sheet of paper, the Bucs may have had the steal of the 2013 draft already, and training camp has yet to start.
The Bucs, during OTAs this spring, all but anointed rookie fourth round pick Akeem Spence as a starting tilted nose tackle alongside Gerald McCoy. It seems the Walter Football crowd agrees with this assessment. Charlie Campbell typed a piece on who he expects to be booms and busts for the Bucs this season, and Campbell has tagged Spence as a boom pick.
Solid Starter: Akeem Spence, DT, Illinois – Round 4
I wasn’t a fan of Spence as a prospect, but the Bucs like him so much that they are practically forcing him into the starting lineup as a rookie. Tampa Bay let veteran nose tackle Roy Miller leave in free agency, so the team had a hole for a run-stuffer next to Gerald McCoy.
Spence was hit and miss in his final season. He didn’t play well against Wisconsin, but did well versus Penn State. Spence has some speed and explosiveness, but needs to improve his overall game and become more consistent. THe junior totaled 72 tackles, seven tackles for a loss, one sack and one forced fumble in 2012. He played better in 2011, but the sophomore had defensive end Whitney Mercilus commanding a lot of attention as Mercilus led the nation in sacks. Spence totaled 69 tackles with 5.5 tackles for a loss, 1.5 sacks and one forced fumble in 2011.
Tampa Bay has a serious lack of depth on the defensive line, leaving Spence with only pedestrian veterans Gary Gibson and Derek Landri as starting competition. Spence (6-1, 305) will probably end up starting as a rookie and if he plays well, he could be a long-term starter next to McCoy.
Well, if one is to expect Spence to be the next Warren Sapp, then, yes, they will be sorely disappointed and consider Spence a bust. That’s not what the Bucs want from Spence, and that’s not what Spence is.
Spence is oxen strong. Bucs coach Greg Schiano even remarked how Spence may be the strongest guy in the NFL right now. What Spence is supposed to do is take on blocks and, preferably, tie up two blockers in order to set GMC free to raise hell in the backfield and bruise quarterbacks.
Expecting Spence to get double-digit sacks, well, that just won’t happen.