If there is a linebacker in the 2010 NFL Draft who sounds a lot like a younger version of Antonio Pierce, it would have to be Florida's Brandon Spikes.
So, let's talk about Spikes as we continue our series of prospect profiles of players who might interest the New York Giants in the 2010 NFL Draft.
At one time, Spikes was considered a lock to be an early- to mid- first-round selection. He is widely considered the second-best middle linebacker propsect in the draft behind Alabama's Rolando McClain. Yet, the big question with Spikes is value -- how early is too early to grab him.
SB Nation's Mocking The Draft summarizes the dilemma that is Spikes this way.
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 or , and they were both selected in the second round.
Let's take a closer look at what various scouting reports say about Spikes.
Brandon Spikes Scouting Reports
In its latest Mock Draft, The Football Expert analyzes the Giants and knows they need linebacker help. But, this is what they about Spikes and the Giants first-round selection, 15th overall. "Realistically it is too soon for Florida’s Spikes because scouts will fall asleep waiting for him to finish his 40."
That seems to be the major question about Spikes. Is he fast enough to be a dominant sideline-to-sideline middle linebacker, and to hold up in pass coverage? What type of speed he shows in the upcoming Scouting Combine will undoubtedly affect how early Spikes comes off the board.
Here is some of what SB Nation's Mocking The Draft said about Spikes.
The read and react skills for Spikes are stellar. He processes a play quickly and has the football intelligence to know where the play is going to develop. This helps him overcome a small lack of athleticism and agility. Does a really nice job of managing a defense and will be able to do so in the NFL.
What keeps Spikes from being an elite linebacker prospect is a lack of athleticism. He doesn't have those quick-twitch movements you like to see in premier players.
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.
Here is a little bit of what ESPN says in its analysis of Spikes.
One of the most instinctive defenders in college football today. Recognition skills continue to improve. Finds the ball quickly and has playmaking flair. ...
Plays the game with a chip on his shoulder and shows the ferocious attitude teams are looking for in an ILB/MLB. ...
Top-end speed is not great but it is adequate for his position. He's quicker than fast and generally covers more ground than his 40-time indicates. ...
Displays better closing burst to the ball carrier than his timed speed might indicate.
Why Spikes fits with the Giants
The Giants defense could use an attitude adjustment, a little nastiness if you will. There is no better position to get that from than the middle linebacker, the guy who is in the middle of everything. You also have to like what you read about Spikes' intelligence and instincts. In his best seasons, Pierce was never the fastest middle linebacker. But, if you have the instincts to know where the ball is going to be, and the aggression to fight your way to it, that goes a long way. The other aspect of replacing Pierce that is often mentioned is his ability quarterback a defense. It seems Spikes has potential to be that type of leader.
Why the Giants should pass
Speed kills. This one depends on just exactly how much Tampa 2 new defensive coordinator Perry Fewell is intending to play. Spikes is reportedly better in zone coverage than man-to-man. If, however, Fewell is going to be asking the middle linebacker to consistently make that deep drop the Tampa 2 requires then Spikes might not be the right guy for the job. Otherwise, he seems like an excellent fit for the Giants if he happens to be available in Round 2.
(E-mail Ed at email@example.com)