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Akeem Spence | Defensive Tackle

Team: Illinois Fighting Illini
Age / DOB:  (26) / 11/29/1991
Ht / Wt:  6'1" / 305

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Bucs traded up to select Illinois DT Akeem Spence with the No. 100 overall pick, sending Nos. 112 and 181 to the Raiders.
Spence (6-foot 5/8, 307) started every game of his Illini career, racking up 16.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks across 38 starts. Short but quick-footed, Spence generated generous pre-draft comparisons to Bengals All-Pro Geno Atkins. He'll need to start making a lot more plays to reach those heights. Spence did demonstrate short-area burst with a 1.67 ten-yard split at the Combine. He's an undersized, gap-shooting three-technique prospect. It's a worthy flier for a Bucs team that needs girth in the middle after losing Roy Miller in free agency. Sat, Apr 27, 2013 12:21:00 PM

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National Football Post's Russ Lande writes that it would not be a surprise if Illinois DT Akeem Spence was drafted in the second-round.

Lande has previously written that scouts said Spence reminds them of Geno Atkins, which seems to be a reach of a comparison. Spence is talented, as he possesses strong hands and is quick-footed, but he didn't live up to expectations this past season. Still, it appears that his physical tools could lead him to be a Top 60 selection.
Fri, Mar 8, 2013 12:41:00 PM

National Football Post's Russ Lande says scouts have told him Illinois DT Akeem Spence reminds them of Cincinnati Bengals DT Geno Atkins.

Lande also notes that Spence has drawn comparisons to former LSU defensive tackle Drake Nevis. There's a big difference between Nevis and Atkins, especially considering how dominant Atkins was this season. Spence decided to skip his senior season with an announcement in December.
Thu, Feb 21, 2013 05:32:00 PM

Illinois junior DT Akeem Spence made his move to the NFL official on Friday.

The announcement had been expected since earlier this week, but Spence's play this season did not match the buzz he generated off of a solid 2011. Still, we know he has the talent he once flashed, so Spence could still be a second day selection due to strength and quickness.
Fri, Dec 21, 2012 12:10:00 PM

Illinois junior DT Akeem Spence will forgo his final season of eligibility and enter April's NFL Draft.

Spence is expected to make his announcement on Friday. The junior entered the 2012 season highly thought of due to powerful hands and enough foot quickness to make plays in the backfield, but too often he failed to make an impact in games. The entire Illini defense struggled this season despite plenty of individual talent. We expect a second day selection for Spence, but an early third day pick is not out of the question if terms are concerned about his effort this season.
Source: ESPN
Wed, Dec 19, 2012 10:11:00 AM

Illinois junior DT Akeem Spence will declare for the 2013 NFL Draft "sooner rather than later," according to SI's Tony Pauline.

The entire Illinois defense had a down year despite a richness of talent. Spence was one of the main culprits, losing at the the point of attack and not showing off a quick first step to penetrate the backfield. We still like his powerful punch, but evaluators will likely be puzzled about his performance this season.
Thu, Nov 29, 2012 09:53:00 AM

Scouts Inc.'s Todd McShay passes along word that a scout is "almost certain" Illinois junior DT Akeem Spence will declare for April's Draft.

McShay adds that Spence has been a "standout" for the Illini this season. Prior to the year, Spence was drawing a lot of praise due to powerful first punch strength and quick feet, but we think the entire Illinois defensive unit has severely under-performed. Spence has the talent, but he could be selected in the second day due to the lack of an opportunity to fix his slipping status.
Source: ESPN
Fri, Nov 16, 2012 03:38:00 PM

Illinois junior DT Akeem Spence revealed that the defense isn't blitzing nearly as much as they have in recent years.

"Last year we blitzed a lot more with our linebackers and this year, you know, they’re sitting back, and they’ve got to read," Spence said. "We were able to bring pressure from just about anywhere, from the corners. ... We just brought it from a lot of different angles. That’s what we were used to." The Illini have plenty of individual talent, including senior end Michael Buchanan, senior corner Terry Hawthorne, and Spence, but the unit has allowed two games of 45 and 52 points scored.
Source: Illini HQ
Wed, Sep 26, 2012 12:41:00 PM

SI's Tony Pauline tweeted Saturday that he has heard "from several sources" that Illinois junior DT Akeem Spence "is very open to" or even "likely" to enter the 2013 NFL Draft.

Pauline noted that the decision will likely happen "barring disaster." Spence is one of the many talented Illini defenders and could have a huge season next to end Michael Buchannan. The junior explodes off the snap and has strong hands to create a push, but needs to do it more consistently. Spence is a potential top-50 selection.
Sat, Sep 1, 2012 01:30:00 PM

CBS Sports' Dane Brugler acknowledged that Illinois junior DT Akeem Spence has enough natural ability to warrant first-round consideration in 2013 if he continues to improve.

Brugler loves Spence's versatility along the defensive line, but his quickness upfield may point him to three technique in a four man front. The junior has started every game in the last two seasons, and the experience playing next to former first-round pick Corey Liuget should help in Spence's development. In fact, Spence's path could be very similar to his former teammate's, who was a fairly unknown commodity until midseason when he continually stuck out on tape to evaluators. Like many interior defensive linemen, Spence needs to sustain vision of the ball throughout the play in order not to waste movement or take himself out of plays, but the natural strength and agility is there.
Source: CBS Sports
Thu, Aug 2, 2012 08:49:00 AM

Despite posting fairly pedestrian production last season, Illinois junior DT Akeem Spence is drawing first-round attention.

SI's Tony Pauline is one of the more vocal analysts, calling Spence a "potentially dominant defensive lineman". Pauline cites Spence's explosive athleticism as a reason that he could play across the defensive line. The 6'1/305 pound lineman is frequently asked to play the nose but needs to win more consistently on first contact when he cannot split the gap after jumping the snap. We certainly see flashes of Spence's burst, but his anchor versus the run needs to improve dramatically. He finished last season with 5.5 tackles for loss including 1.5 sacks.
Sun, Jul 1, 2012 02:49:00 PM