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NFL Draft Profile: Illinois DT Akeem Spence

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A look at Illinois defensive end Akeem Spence who is projected to go in the middle rounds of this week's NFL Draft.

USA TODAY Sports

Basics

Position: Defensive Tackle
Height: 6'1
Weight: 307 pounds
40 time: 5.15
Combine bench press: 37 reps

Stats

2010: 45 tackles, 4 TFL, 1 sack, 2 QB Hurries
2011: 69 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks, 1 QB hurry, 1 fumble forced
2012: 72 tackles, 7 TFL, 1 sack, 1 QB hurry, 1 fumble forced

Strengths

Spence has good size for a defensive tackle, but can also move that size. Uses hands and strength to knock linemen off-balance. Is a good tackler and is sturdy in the middle, not easy to move out of the way which lets him serve as a disruptive force in the run game.

Weaknesses

Does not bring much to the pass-rush. While he has good lateral movement for a player his size, that speed does not translate toward north-south. He also does not have a quick first step off the ball, relying more on his strength than quickness. Needs to stay lower.

Anything Else?

Spence stayed out of trouble in Champaign, and was named a Freshman All-American in 2010. He improved in every season, and what he lacks in great athleticism he makes up for with his strength. His 37 reps on the bench press at the combine were more than everybody at the combine except Margus Hunt and Brandon Williams. Like many of the seniors on this team, it looked as if he was coasting at times toward the end of the season.

Summary

Spence will have value to a team running the 4-3 scheme on defense. He's strong and a good enough tackler to make plays in the run game on the NFL level, but also has plenty of room to improve. Bottom line is he'll likely be best suited as a rotational player on a defensive line rather than a full-time starter. Should go in the mid-to-late rounds.

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