Akeem Spence to the Buccaneers: How Does DT Fit with Tampa Bay?

J.J. RodriguezContributor IIApril 27, 2013

Sep 29, 2012; Champaign, IL, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini defensive lineman Akeem Spence (94) during the game against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bradley Leeb-USA TODAY Sports
Bradley Leeb-USA TODAY Sports

Day 3 of the NFL draft is underway and with it, the addition of several more players to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the first of which is defensive tackle Akeem Spence from Illinois.

The former Fighting Illini lineman comes to the Bucs after Tampa Bay traded two picks, Nos. 112 and 181 overall, to the Oakland Raiders for the 100th overall selection.

Spence (6'1", 305 lbs) has a good first step and has a disruptive streak that he has flashed on occasion, but his motor is inconsistent, and due to his relatively slight build, he can be pushed around much more easily than lineman should be.

One thing in his favor, however, has been his ability to stay healthy, as Spence finished his collegiate career having started 38 consecutive games.

 

Role

The addition of Spence does technically fill a need for the Bucs, who are very thin on the defensive line, but truthfully, he is more of a 3-technique tackle, a position currently occupied by Gerald McCoy. That's not to say Spence is a wasted choice, however, as he has shown the versatility to move around along the entire defensive line.

For Spence to really make a difference in the NFL, he is going to have to bulk up and add weight to his frame, which would allow him to better take on double-teams as a 1-technique tackle.

 

Early Projection

With a relatively thin unit along the line and the health of McCoy a constant concern, Spence should see some playing time, although in all likeliness, it will initially be on a part-time basis as a member of the defensive-line rotation.

With a secondary that has seen its quality of personnel improve this offseason with the additions of Dashon Goldson (via free agency), Darrelle Revis (via trade) and Johnthan Banks (second-round, No. 43 overall), the defensive line stands a greater chance of being a disruptive force this season and beyond.

Depending upon how quickly he can bulk up and adapt to the strength and speed of the NFL, Spence has flashed the ability to be a difference-maker up front, but whether or not he is this season remains to be seen.

 

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