Bucs coaches like first impression of rookie DE Noah Spence
Bucs defensive line coach Jay Hayes first saw Noah Spence play when he was a Bengals assistant, and Ohio State played its spring game at Paul Brown Stadium, and the Bucs defensive end didn't disappoint that day.
"Noah had like four sacks," Hayes said. "That was my first exposure to him. He's a guy that can put pressure on the passer. He's a guy that is a specialist and that's what we saw."
Defensive coordinator Mike Smith said as the Bucs looked for a pass-rusher to fill a role they've needed for several years, Spence stood out as a sack specialist, with talent that would translate from college success to playing well in the NFL.
"Noah Spence has some real traits that you're looking for in a pass-rusher," Smith said of the No. 39 overall pick in the draft. "He's got a really good first step. He uses his hands extremely well. In our mind, he was one of the best if not the best pass-rusher in the draft."
Hayes knows Spence especially well because the rookie trained this offseason with Hayes' son, Jesse, and he met Spence's parents when he went to Eastern Kentucky's pro day this spring. He likes having a mentoring role with young players, and his message to Spence will be the same as any other player under him.
"You're a professional athlete. You have to carry yourself in a certain way. It's time to start acting like an adult," Hayes said. "What I tell them (is) you've got to act like a grown-ass man. There's a lot to that. It's not just being a tough guy. It's making good decisions, on and off the field. That's what I constantly pour into my guys. I don't care if you're a rookie or a 10-year vet."