26 Days to the Draft: Florida LB, Brandon Spikes

With the Draft fast approaching, it's time to start looking at some potential players for the Patriots. I'm going to put profiles of 2 players a day- one offense, one defensive- and gain a better understanding of the players in the draft.

Current Patriots LB Jerod Mayo did extremely well his rookie year due to having a high quality MLB lining up next to him. This past season, the quality of the Patriots linebackers dropped immensely due to retirement, trade and overall lack of effort by a certain OLB. Our 3-4 defense relies heavily upon the skills of our LBs and their ability to make plays. Florida LB, Brandon Spikes, is a playmaker and has been one his entire college career. While he made a poor decision on the field, the Patriots still have expressed at least a passing interest in his ability. A MLB tandem of Spikes and Mayo would be a huge boost in the skill level and could help the rest of the defense step up and do their jobs. Spikes has been projected as early as the 1st round to as late as the 3rd. Selecting him in the 2nd round would be good value for a player who has the ability to be a great player at the next level.

His measurements and some quotes after the jump.

WalterFootball.com Scouting

Height: 6-3. Weight: 253.
Projected 40 Time: 4.74.
Pro Day 40 Time: 5.03.
Benchx225: 27. Vertical: 36.5.

Strengths:

  • Great production since sophomore year
  • Big-time hitter
  • Prototype size and strength
  • Always around the ball; active
  • Explosive athlete
  • Diagnoses run well
  • Disengages from blockers
  • Aggressive
  • Comfortable in space
  • Good pursuit
  • Physical
  • Good vision and can locate ball-carrier
  • Durable
  • High upside



    Weaknesses:
  • Doesn't always take proper angles
  • Hips could be more fluid; a little stiff
  • Looks somewhat awkward in zone coverage vs. pass
  • Lacks really impressive speed
  • Occasionally out of position
  • Good aggression, but sometimes does too much (overpursues, goes for big hit)
  • CBSSports.com Scouting

    03/17/2010 - On the opposite side of the spectrum is inside linebacker Brandon Spikes, who was clocked at 4.99 and 5.03. This time would have placed him ahead of only Kentucky inside linebacker Micah Johnson as the slowest LB tested at the Combine. Though I like Spikes' ability as a run stuffer in the middle, I've questioned his sideline to sideline speed for quite some time. Spikes didn't run at the Combine, but did compete in the vertical and broad jumps. Perhaps he shouldn't have. Spikes finished tied with Johnson for last in the vertical (29") and with the third worst total in the broad jump (9'3") among linebackers tested in Indianapolis. Spikes' slow, unathletic workouts could have a devastating effect on his draft stock. Currently rated by NFLDraftScout.com as a second round prospect, Spikes could in fact slip out of the second day of the draft. - Rob Rang, The Sports Xchange, NFLDraftScout.com

    NFL.com Scouting

    Spikes is a big, strong physical defender that missed some time in 2009 after being suspended for a game due to an on the field incident early in the season. Spikes is best attacking the line of scrimmage and is a solid tackler in the open field. He uses his hands well to ward off blockers and leverage the ball and understands angles and run fits in the Gators defense. He is an instinctive player that is best versus the run but appears to have limitations in coverage. Spikes is quicker than fast and reacts quickly as plays develop but will need lots of technique work (especially defending the pass) at the next level. Spikes has excellent blood lines and is a good football player that brings attitude and leadership to the linebacker position.

    Strengths

    Spikes has an outstanding combination of size, strength and toughness for the inside linebacker position. Is a highly-competitive performer who was the heart and soul of his Florida defense. Highly- productive player who earned All-American status. Displays impressive athleticism in multiple facets including in coverage where he’s a playmaker. Supremely instinctive reactor who is extremely quick to diagnose plays and find the football. Has been very durable.
    Weaknesses
    Can be overly emotional at times. Spikes only possesses average long- speed which limits his range against the run and ability to play in man coverage, Only has average change of direction in space and can be beaten by counter plays. Flashes the ability to effectively blitz but has not been very productive yet in this area.

    MockingtheDraft.com Scouting

    Final word: Spikes considered coming out following the 2008 season and likely would have been a top 50 pick. Following a solid, but slightly unspectacular, senior year Spikes could go in the first 25 picks. The catch there is that there is a trend of middle linebackers sliding in the draft. It's hard to say that Spikes is a better player than James Laurinaitis or Rey Maualuga, and they were both selected in the second round. He's a heady middle linebacker who can lead a defense and be a coach on the field. He's a student of the game and it shows in his excellent recognition skills. Spikes is a versatile linebacker who could handle playing in a 4-3 or a 3-4. His strength and intelligence should make him an immediate starter at the next level.

    Verdict: The general assessment of Spikes is that he is unable to run sideline to sideline, but is a monster in the box. He is basically the opposite of Gary Guyton. Guyton can move sideline to sideline and can make the tackle, but he is usually making the tackle from behind and not stopping the play. Spikes can stop the play if it is upfront, but he lacks the ability to get the player on the outside. If Spikes is able to improve his straight line time, he could be even better in the NFL. If he improves his character under the leadership of Jerod Mayo, then he could be another vocal defensive leader of the Patriots for years to come. If he's around during our last draft pick, it'd be foolish not to take him. I'd even advise selecting him if he's around for our second 2nd round pick. I think this kid has talent and the Patriots is the best place for him to be brought under control and utilized to his full potential.

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