Akeem Spence: Solid Starter

July 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.

22 Responses to “Akeem Spence: Solid Starter”

  1. Biff Barker Says:

    Pretty fair comments from Cambell since this line has yet to prove anything.
    I remain optimistic that these guys will finally come together as a unit though.
    Spence’s job is not just to occupy blockers, Miller did that last season, bad back and all.
    We need a guy to penetrate and disrupt. Strength is not very useful if he cant explode off the ball.
    Get the QB away from his launch point and let GMC and Bowers use their quickness. Forget the sack stat, its QB pressures that will produce turnovers.

  2. Royce Says:

    Who is the bust he picked?

  3. Buc'n Junkie Says:

    I think the one praise I hear the most about Spence, is not just how strong he is but also how he doesn’t take plays off. His motor’s always running, and it wears out the interior OL. This is in tune with what Biff Barker said, “We need a guy to penetrate and disrupt”. Exactly, constant harassment and pressure, not necessarily sacks …will help …. produce turnovers.

  4. robert Says:

    I’ll go on record saying I predict Spence to be the class of our draft. He’ll get more game time than any of the others and GMC will get a lot of attention. I think Spence will get @ least 6 sacks while being a major run stiffer.

    some guys got game, some don’t…

    this guys gonna bring it!

  5. Sneedy16 Says:


    You are right about Miller just eating up space and not doing much else. I am hoping that Spence can push the pocket so that the QB will not have a place to step up to. That should give the edge rushers more of a chance to get to the QB. They will already have GMC shooting the gaps up the middle.

    Spence kind of reminds me of a healthy Brian Price, quick of the line and powerful, but with an inconsistent motor.

  6. the_buc_realist Says:

    Forget about lack of depth, How about lack of starters as well. There is a reason that the Bucs have had the worst D-line over the past 4 seasons.

  7. Buc'n Junkie Says:


    “Spence kind of reminds me of a healthy Brian Price, quick of the line and powerful, but with an inconsistent motor.”

    What? inconsistent motor? Watch his tapes, listen to his coaches, listen to the scouts, Hell, listen to Dominik and Schiano. That’s not what they see in this kid.

  8. MadMax Says:

    Spence isnt just strong, he’s got a little nasty in him!! I like it! I think Sapp will be impressed with him…give him a year or two and he’ll be a beast.

  9. Sneedy16 Says:

    I was referring to his pass rushing ability. Brian Price was stout against the run and good against the pass, but was never healthy. Spence relied on his strength too much and not technique. Inconsistent really isn’t the word, he is good just needs more rushing moves added to his repertoire. Against the run he was unmovable and that’s what coaches and Dom likes him.

  10. Buc'n Junkie Says:

    I got you, and i totally agree. Just like most highly touted rookies, they usually do better in their sophomore years after they have honed their craft and learned more skills. Let’s just hope Spence is a first year monster.

  11. Fritz50 Says:

    ” just needs more rushing moves added to his repertoire”

    Better way to put it, I agree that the kid needs polish, but I feel he’ll be an effective plug , in the middle, while he develops. Pretty confident he will imorove, as he seems to have the desire & will to make it happen.

  12. Biff Barker Says:

    @ Sneedy
    Think about what Warren did for Simeon.
    We simply can’t allow a QB step up in the pocket and deliver consistently. Kinda like baseball when the pitcher comes inside to make the batter move his feet.

  13. ASDF Says:

    Reality check everyone. He was a fourth round pick for a reason….

  14. Freemanbomb5 Says:

    Hopefully this rd 4 selection is better then Kyle Moore, Keith Tandy, and Kyle Moore have been. If we can get remotely a quarter of the production Mike Williams gives us out of a forth round selection.

  15. Biff Barker Says:

    @ ASDF
    Gotta remember that Mike Williams was a 4th round pic too!
    Hey. agree, the odds are in your favor, but let’s not get too hung up on draft position.
    This guy was brought in to play tilt nose and crash the pocket. If he can just do that job fairly well, it will free up GMC.

  16. robert Says:

    @ ASDF

    so was Mike Williams

  17. James Pearls Says:

    @Joe – can somebody please explain why guys like Roy Miller are considered ‘veterans’ when Freeman is considered anything but a veteran QB (when they were taken in the same draft I believe)

  18. MadMax Says:

    We know @ASDF….duh!

    Lower round draft gems and even undrafted gems find their way through every once in a while. Good point, but we’ll see….same with Gholston.

  19. stanglassman Says:

    James- Each position has a learning curve and a shelf life and some players come out of college early and enter the draft. There is not too many 38 year old DT in the league but it not too usual to see a 38 year old QB, kicker or punter.
    Robert- I like Spence too but I don’t see him getting 6 sacks plus, I don’t even think the coaches expect that from the position. But I hope you’re right and I’m wrong.

  20. ASDF Says:

    @robert…Mike williams is the exception, not the rule.

    Scouts also said he had better than 4th round talent, he fell due to other issues (i.e. charater issues – acedemic suspension / quitting the team).

    I hope Akeem Spence can also be an exception like Mike, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here….

  21. Sneedy16 Says:

    Geno Atkins was a 4th round pick and now he is an All Pro DT.

  22. Chris Says:

    Tom Brady was a 6th round pick. Mike Williams went in the 4th. Wes Welker was undrafted. Ronde Barber went in the 3rd round.

    @ASDF, what does draft position have to do with anything?