NEPD Editor: James Christensen
Illinois defensive lineman Akeem Spence will declare for the 2013 NFL Draft tomorrow, according to multiple reports. Is he a potential fit for the Patriots?
Initially thought of as a potential first round pick at the start of the season, Spence didn’t have the season that many NFL Draft writers and Illinois fans were expecting. I was a little surprised to hear that he chose to declare, but it only takes one NFL team to fall in love with your potential.
Spence improved a lot from when I scouted Illinois in person against Northwestern, where he struggled against double teams and lost energy as the game went on.
When I scouted him against Arizona State this year, Spence was in better shape, had a better anchor and played with better pad discipline.
At 6’1″ and 305 pounds, Spence wouldn’t really fit as a 5-technique defensive end, but he would be a natural fit as a disruptive player inside at either the 1-technique or 3-technique. He excels at shooting gaps, shedding single blocks and using his natural strength to get to the ball carrier.
He totaled 72 tackles on the year, which is a fantastic figure for a defensive tackle, but a single sack during his junior season (3.5 career) shows some issues with his pass rush.
If the Patriots, or another team is looking for an interior linemen with room to improve in the 3rd-5th round area, Spence is a player that could certainly develop into a quality NFL starter.
See the full list of underclassmen that have declared at BBD.