2016 NFL Draft: 5 Risky Picks for the 49ers
Noah Spence — Defensive End (Eastern Kentucky)
We all know how porous the 49ers pass rush was in 2015 — a mere 28 sacks which was tied for third worst in the league.
Their only consistent rusher is outside linebacker Aaron Lynch. The other pass-rushers are either run hot-and-cold or are borderline busts, which includes Ahmad Brooks, Corey Lemonier, Tank Carradine and Eli Harold.
The 49ers badly need help in this area in the draft. One of the best edge-rushers available is Eastern Kentucky’s Noah Spence. In 2015, Spence recorded 22.5 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks. Despite lacking in some measurable’s, his biggest strengths are his snap anticipation and his relentless pursuit of the QB.
However, Spence once played at Ohio State but failed two drug tests, which got him permanently barred from the Big Ten. Failing drug tests is a major character concern and puts into question whether he really wants a NFL career.
In some circles, he is considered the best pure pass-rusher in the draft. But can he overcome the drug problem? He is making a concerted attempt to convince teams that he is now clean. Per Adam Schefter of ESPN, Spence sent every NFL team the past 20 drug tests he has taken since May in the last week.
Though his efforts to show teams he has cleaned up his act is honorable, with a bunch of money and extra time on his hands, what’s to say he doesn’t resist to the drug temptation again? That is the key question for Baalke if he is even on their draft board.
Spence is a critical risk/reward player — if he keeps himself clean, he can be an effective pass rusher and help the 49ers if selected. But if he reverts to his drug using past, he will spend more time off the field, and he would be another wasted pick — something the 49ers can’t have this year.
Next: Laremy Tunsil