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Noah Spence could be the best edge rusher in the 2016 NFL Draft

Setting aside his off-field concerns, retired NFL defensive end Stephen White sees a player capable of electrifying the NFL with his moves.

Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

As y'all should know by now, I do not like to do breakdowns of guys who I don't get to watch play at least four games. Unfortunately, this offseason I have only been able to find three of Noah Spence's games and the NFL Draft is fast approaching. Therefore, I have decided to break my informal rule and do a quasi-breakdown of Spence so that I can at least put something out there about what I saw in the three games that were available.

The whole reason why I would do this for Spence and maybe not every other player is because I think Spence is a special player, a special pass rusher. If he was just some dude on the field, then I wouldn't feel the need to do his breakdown at all.

Spence looks like he could be the best edge rusher in this year's draft, off-the-field issues notwithstanding.

So what could have made me feel this way after seeing just three games?

I'm glad you asked.

As you might recall when breaking down the all the previous edge rushers to this point, I kept harping on the fact that none of them were really all that great at actually turning the corner as edge rushers. I just didn't see any of those guys consistently beating offensive tackles at the 7-8 yards depth that you need to get pressure on the quarterback with an outside rush.

Guys like Joey Bosa, Shaq Lawson and even a "fast" guy like Emmanuel Ogbah got pushed too deep when they tried to come around the edge, which allowed quarterbacks to step up in the pocket away from their rushes and still deliver the football downfield.

Now, that doesn't mean those guys won't be good pass rushers on the next level or that they couldn't eventually get better at turning the corner. What it does mean, at least for now, is that they are a little lacking in that skill according to their tape.

I make no apologies for the fact that I like for my edge rushers to at least be able to threaten to burn the corner, because that's how they can get the offensive tackles bailing out of their stances. Once you as a pass rusher force the blocker to have to jump out to try to catch up to your speed rush, it opens up the whole universe of pass-rush moves to you, especially inside moves.

That's why I put extra value on a guy who can, in fact, turn the corner consistently, because I know if they can develop a good inside move to go along with it, the offensive tackles they face are going to be sitting ducks more often than not.

Spence is the only guy I've broken down so far who can win consistently around the corner and with inside moves as a pass rusher. The caveat, again, is that it was only three games, but he looked pretty dominant as a pass rusher in all three.

I know some folks will bring up his 40 time to knock him as a speed rusher, but frankly I don't give a shit about all that. What I do care about is that his 10-yard splits were 1.62 and 1.65, unofficially, because that lined up with the kind of get-off I saw from him on film. Those were some of the better 10-yard splits of all the defensive linemen at the combine this year.

It's not blazing speed that helps Spence win anyway. One thing that really sets him apart winning around the corner is his ability to turn his hips towards the quarterback and continue rushing at full speed. That takes good footwork and some really good balance, especially to do it as smoothly as Spence does.

Another thing that gives him an edge (see what I did there?) is Spence just has a feel for how to get to half a man when he is pass rushing. What that means is that it's hard to just run over dudes in the NFL and get pressure, no matter how strong you are, but if you can get to either the inside half or outside half of the blocker you have a much better chance of getting by them. And if you can work to his outside edge quickly, that also helps your ability to turn the corner.

Not only was Spence able to turn the corner at between seven and eight yards' depth consistently in those three games, but sometimes he would turn as quickly as five yards' depth. Even on plays where he didn't necessarily get pressure or hit the quarterback, I still saw Spence getting clean wins as an edge rusher repeatedly.

If it weren't for an inordinate amount of chip blocks, which teams inevitably employed after he smoked their tackles a few times, Spence would've likely had several more sacks in just those three games.

Look, I know everybody uses a defensive lineman getting doubled a few times as an excuse when they aren't as productive as expected, but with Spence it was actually a legit reason as to why he missed out on a few more sacks as you can see here.

And here.

And here.

It's worth noting that just sending a running back to help out on Spence wasn't always enough to shut him down.

Several times Spence beat both the offensive tackle and the running back and ended up flushing the quarterback from the pocket, but didn't quite get him on the ground. Even without coming home with the sack, his ability to beat two guys was still impressive.

As you can see, Spence was not content to just try to win around the edge all the time, especially when teams started sending that extra body to help block him. He had this really nice inside move -- sometimes an arm-over, sometimes a rip -- that he was pretty lethal with, especially after he set the tackles up with his speed rush.

What made the inside moves so effective was Spence's footwork. He made those rushes look just like his speed rushes. Then as soon as the offensive tackles over set to try to block his speed rush, Spence would two-step inside with the fluidity of a wide receiver making a cut on a quick slant.

He beat those tackles clean damn near every single time.

Remember what I said about forcing the offensive tackles to bail out?

Yep, sitting ducks.

Oh, and then he also hit one tackle with a fake inside-to-outside rush, and he was able to win with that too.

I don't want to go overboard because, three games. However, of the guys I've broken down, I feel most confident that Spence will be able to get pressure on the quarterback at the next level on the outside. That's not to say he will have the most sacks out of everyone, because some of these other guys will win with inside moves and pass rushing from the defensive tackle position.

When it comes to getting pressure turning the corner, I think that Spence is probably going to be the best of the guys I've broken down. I'm not sure it will even be close.

Now as a run defender, the plain-and-simple truth is Spence is somewhat undersized at 6'2 and 251 pounds, so I don't see him as any kind of five-technique 3-4 defensive type guy. Based on what I saw, he is going to have to play mostly out on an edge in an attacking style defense so he can use his athletic ability to make plays more than trying to out-muscle blockers.

Which is not to say he was some kind of push over against the run. He wasn't some overwhelming physical presence, but he still found a way to anchor down and hold his ground most of the time when he had to take on offensive tackles.

This play on the goal line where he splits the tight end and right tackle trying to double team him was particularly impressive.

At the end of the day, I don't think you want to see him trying to split a lot of double teams. He looked much better when he had the opportunity to run around blocks and make plays in the backfield.

Spence might actually be better served as a 3-4 outside linebacker than a 4-3 defensive end. That way he would likely get opportunities to rush on both sides of the line instead of just the right side. That's another thing that kind of separated Spence from the rest of the guys: his ability to pass rush on the right side just as well as he did on the left.

That actually isn't something you see from many prospects, ever. Usually guys either have a favorite side or only played one side all the time in college, and if they did switch sides, they were way better at pass rushing on one side than the other.

Spence, on the other hand, looks like a carbon copy of himself whether he is rushing from the left defensive end ...

... or the right defensive end position.

No matter the side, that offensive tackle's ass was in trouble if he saw Spence lined up across from him and he wasn't getting any help. Again, only three games, yes, but the consistency through all of them was just kind of amazing.

So, yeah, this Noah Spence kid can really get after the quarterback. Because of his off-field stuff, I don't have any idea where or when he will get drafted, but don't be surprised if three years from now we are talking about him as one of the best pass rushers in this class and in the league overall.

That is especially true if he ends up going to a team that really knows how to use him. I'm excited to see what he can be in the NFL and that's about the highest praise I can give a prospect.

Since I don't have access to all-22 for college football games, I use the next best thing for my draft profiles and go to Draft Breakdown. They the TV copy of a bunch of top prospects already cut up and ready to go. Also, their site is compatible with the new NoHuddle app that turns your cell phone into a "cowboy clicker," which is pretty damn neat. For the purposes of this breakdown I watched former Eastern Kentucky edge rusher Noah Spence play against Valparaiso, NC State and Kentucky. Those represented the first, second and fourth games on Eastern Kentucky's schedule last season, respectively.