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Buccaneers select Spence in second round

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(STATS) - The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are banking that Noah Spence's slip to the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft gives them a value pick.

The Bucs selected the explosive defensive end/outside linebacker from Eastern Kentucky at No. 39 overall Friday night during the second of the three-day draft in Chicago.

The 6-foot-2, 251-pound Spence, who entered the draft after his junior season, was considered by some to be a first-round talent, but with the baggage of drug problems at his first school, Ohio State.

He has been forthcoming about the past problems - there's been little choice as he's tried to move forward to the NFL - but that's also where he says such problems will remain: in the past.

"The thing I love about Noah is he practices hard every day," said his former Ohio State coach, Urban Meyer. "He brings it every day in the weight room, he brings it every day on the practice field. I think he's going to have a great career. I've seen him work and I trust who he is. I think he made a couple bad mistakes, but that's not a reflection of who he is."

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Spence arrived to the Bucs after just one dominating season on the FCS level. Named the Ohio Valley Conference's co-defensive player of the player and to the STATS All-America first team, he outclassed much of the competition with 22.5 tackles for loss, 13.5 sacks and 15 quarterback hurries in 11 games.

But the questions surrounding Spence have mostly been about his off-the-field transgressions. Meyer's first five-star recruit at Ohio State made the 2013 All-Big Ten media first team as a sophomore before the conference barred him from competition in September 2014 after he failed a drug test for the second time.

At Eastern Kentucky. Spence was arrested last May on charges of alcohol intoxication and second-degree disorderly conduct, but they were expunged from his record after he participated in community service. He passed frequent drugs tests and graduated on Dec. 11 with a general studies degree.

"I feel like everything I've ever done is out in the open," Spence said at the NFL Combine in late February. "I've never gotten away with anything.

"It shows that I've grown from the situation and tried my best to become a better person."

The Bucs are counting on it from their second-round selection.