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Friday, April 23, 2010
Patriots add Brandon Spikes to LB corps

By Tim Graham

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick relied on the developmental skills of old buddy Urban Meyer again and selected his second straight Florida defender, drafting inside linebacker Brandon Spikes 62nd overall.

Why the Patriots took him: Spikes was among the top three inside linebackers in the draft, but slipped because of concerns about his speed and ability cover the field against the run or defend in pass coverage. But he's a tough player with many impressive traits.

Where Spikes fits: Gary Guyton, an undrafted player in 2008, started every game at inside linebacker for the Patriots last year. The Patriots also have Tyrone McKenzie, a third-round pick last year who missed the entire season with a knee injury. Spikes provides an upgrade at inside linebacker and will partner with Jerod Mayo in the middle.

Scouts Inc. says: One of the most instinctive defenders in college football. Recognition skills continue to improve. Finds the ball quickly and has playmaking flair. Shows great awareness and is usually the first on the Gator defense to diagnose a given play. ... Plays the game with a chip on his shoulder and shows the ferocious attitude teams are looking for in an inside linebackers. He is big and shows decent natural strength. While he rarely gets rolled over at the point of attack Spikes is not an overly-explosive hitter. ... Displays better closing burst to the ball carrier than his timed speed might indicate. Adequate strength at the point of attack as a tackler, but he's not a lights-out striker. Leaves his feet a bit too often and can improve as a space tackler by breaking down and playing with more consistent leverage.