FOXBORO, Mass. — Brandon Spikes could have entered the 2009 draft after his junior season, and he likely would have been selected in the top half of the first round. But he stayed at Florida and had a tough senior season, which cost him a huge chunk of money. Spikes? loss was New England?s gain, as the Patriots took Spikes with the 62nd pick in the 2010 draft.
The 6-foot-2, 249-pounder started 39 of 47 games in his four-year career, and he registered 307 tackles (178 solo), 6.5 sacks, 31.5 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, six interceptions, eight quarterback pressures and 14 pass breakups.
Spikes is fun to watch. He?s always around the ball and has ideal instincts for a middle linebacker. He?s a tough, gritty player who is a good, strong tackler, and he?ll bring that type of edge you typically see from sturdy SEC defensive players. Spikes, who couldn?t break the five-second mark in the 40-yard dash, was heavily criticized in 2009 for an eye-gouging incident against Georgia, but Spikes has been very much acclaimed for his leadership ability.
He is a true middle linebacker and has a great chance to earn the starting job next to Jerod Mayo. The Patriots used Gary Guyton as a starting middle linebacker in 2009, but he might be better suited for the outside, so this draft selection could improve the Patriots in two areas. Spikes will probably compete with Tyrone McKenzie for that inside position, but the early nod goes to the Gator. Either way, the Patriots have set themselves up with some really good depth in that area.
Spikes could have left Florida after his junior season and been a first-round draft pick, but he stayed in school and his stock suffered. Whether it was due to a nagging injury, a drop-off in talent around him or the opposition?s ability to prepare a better game plan for Spikes, he just wasn?t the same player in 2009 as he was in 2008, when he was one of the finest middle linebackers in the country. Spikes said he?s got no regrets, though.
?One thing, and that was having the chance to win a third national championship,? Spikes said when asked why he returned for his senior year. ?That was the only reason I came back. I don?t regret one bit of it. My senior year was phenomenal. I had a good time being with the guys that came in. We won a lot of ball games. Unfortunately, we let one get away from us, but that?s how it goes. I came back just to win a third national championship. Nobody has ever done it. Best class, be a part of something special, but we came up short. I [still] loved every minute of it.?
?Oh, I?ve got a great deal of respect for that kid. I got a chance to watch him when he was at Tennessee. I watched him on film when he was an opponent. Just to be beside him, I know he came in and had a great deal of success so far. I just want him to be a great teammate, show me the ropes, and we can get in and get it going.?
–Spikes on the prospects of playing middle linebacker alongside Mayo.