Brandon Spikes was selected by the Patriots in the second round (62nd overall) in this year’s Draft. The former Florida Gator will reportedly receive $3.21 million and roughly $900K as a signing bonus according to reports.
Spikes is expected to compete for a starting role as inside linebacker in the Patriots defense, The Patriots current starters, Jerod Mayo and Gary Guyton are the incumbents Spikes must try to beat out to see any playing time. Mayo, a former first round pick out of Tennessee appears a lock to retain one position, Guyton – an undrafted free agent – may pose a formidable challenge at the other spot for Spikes.
Like most rookies who come to Foxboro, Spikes must show a firm grasp of the playbook before the coaching staff will give him an opportunity to secure playing time. Guyton, a fast learner, managed that feat in one camp, but knows the Patriots scheme isn’t easy to master and welcomes competition.
“I think competition is always good,” Guyton told the Boston Herald after a workout this spring. “It’s a competitive sport, so anytime there is competition, I’m game.”
Of course Guyton was talking about competition from Tyrone McKenzie, another linebacker drafted by the Patriots in 2009. McKenzie suffered a severe knee injury in camp and missed his entire rookie season.
Guyton knows the organization is determined to improve the roster, and the addition of Spikes only confirms that philosophy. With two drafted linebackers at his position Guyton has a tough battle come training camp. If you take his comments from this spring seriously, Guyton seems ready for the challenge.
“Competition is competition,” He told the Herald.” I compete with myself every day”
Spikes, considered a thumper type of player, needs to find his legs in the Patriots’ scheme. As a second round pick, there is pressure on the young defender to show he was worthy of head coach Bill Belichick’s praise. He also has to show he has the speed to keep up with the scheme, as Guyton has done. But when asked if Spikes could be a leader in the Patriots defense, head coach Bill Belichick gave the Florida product the benefit of the doubt – at least publicly.
“Brandon was a solid team leader and was very well respected in their program, as was [Jermaine] Cunningham as was Devin [McCourty] at Rutgers, Belichick said when asked to describe Spikes and his fellow 2010 defensive Draft teammates. .”I think all three of those defensive players are team captains, team leaders, some of the most respected people in their programs.”
What role Spikes will play in New England’s defense remains to be seen. He has a few weeks of training camp to show he deserved to be a second round pick. Although the critics cite his speed as a potential liability, don’t expect Spikes to take the criticism lightly. By all accounts, he’s a fierce competitor and proud of his accomplishments. Those traits are going to help him during the dog days of camp, which are just a few short weeks away.
Here are some highlights of Spikes’ college career:
Video: Draft Preview: Brandon Spikes
With Brandon spikes signed, the Patriots can now focus on getting their top pick in the 2010 NFL Draft – Devin McCourty – signed and in camp with his teammates.