Illinois defensive tackle Akeem Spence grew up in Fort Walton Beach watching the Bucs glory days, led by star tackle Warren Sapp.
Spence knew the Bucs were interested in him from the combine, but was pleasantly surprised when Tampa Bay traded up in the fourth round to take him with the third pick of the day (100th overall). The Bucs traded one of its fourth round picks (112th) and sixth-rounder (181st) to Oakland.
"When I got the call from the Bucs, I heard coach (Greg) Schiano's voice on the phone, I mean I almost had a heart attack," Spence said. "I knew I'd probably go today at some point, but I didn't know that they were going to trade up for me. My dad jumped out of his chair, and my stepmom, she rolls on the floor. It's just a happy feeling."
Spence, a 6-foot-1, 307-pound tackle, was a 2012 All-Big Ten honorable mention, recording a career-high 72 tackles with one sack, five QB pressures and a forced fumble. He said he's got experience in both the 4-3 and 3-4, and capable of playing nose or three-technique. Spence could be a good replacement for DT Roy Miller, who signed with the Jaguars.
"I can be a plus, just take some pressure off (DT Gerald McCoy)," Spence said.
Spence has been known for his strength since his impressive showing at the combine, bench pressing 225 pounds 37 times. He said since he was a state weightlifting champ coming out of high school, that's always been important to him.
NFL analyst Mike Mayock said Spence needs to do a better job of translating that strength to the field.
"You can tell I play with a lot of power," Spence said. "I'm real strong, I've got a great first step, and what you notice on film is I make a lot of plays."