Prospect profile: Brandon Spikes, ILB, Florida

Sporting News’ Pro Football War Room has hundreds of player evaluations in preparation for the 2010 NFL draft. Here is a capsule look at prospect Brandon Spikes.

School: Florida
NFL position: ILB
Height: 6-2 7/8
Weight: 249
40 time: 4.74
Current projection: First-round pick
NFL comparison: James Laurinaitis, Rams

Brandon Spikes doesn't have elite athletic ability; he's just a playmaker.
Brandon Spikes doesn’t have elite athletic ability; he’s just a playmaker.

Vs. inside runs: Shows flexibility to bend knees and sink hips to take on lead blockers with good leverage. Is tough and aggressive. Reads and reacts quickly to inside runs, and sheds blockers quickly to make tackles. Shows the strength to hold his ground vs. fullbacks and offensive linemen at the point of attack. Sifts through traffic surprisingly well to find ballcarrier.

Vs. outside runs: Shows quick footwork and top-notch instincts to get started quickly at the snap. Lacks elite speed to make a lot of plays outside the tackle box, but compensates with excellent instincts and quickness to play faster than timed speed would indicate. Shows the knee bend to maintain balance and avoid blockers in the open field. Lack of elite speed will make it tougher for him to catch NFL ballcarriers near the sideline.

Blitz/coverage: Is not an explosive pass rusher, but often pressures the QB by attacking the blocker and jolting him backward. Lacks variety of pass-rush moves. Reads the QB well in zone coverage, reacting and closing quickly to deliver hard hits. Gets outside quickly to tackle backs on screen passes. Can cover running backs man-to-man on short routes. Can cover most tight ends man-to-man, but lacks elite speed to handle athletic tight ends downfield.

Run/pass recognition: Reads and reacts quickly, showing great instincts to play faster than his timed speed would suggest. Is aggressive, but doesn’t bite on play-action fakes. Does not get fooled by misdirection or trick plays, and is consistently in the right place at the right time.

Pursuit/tackling: Lacks the elite speed to consistently chase down NFL ballcarriers along the sideline, but should make a lot of plays between the hash marks. When in pursuit, maintains good balance and plays under control to break down and make open-field tackles. Is a wrap-up tackler, but also drives up into the ballcarrier to deliver violent hits.

Bottom line: In games we graded, Spikes was involved in one of every 6.4 plays, an excellent ratio, especially against SEC competition. He is not the premier athlete NFL coaches drool over, but he is a good all-around athlete with the strength and smarts to make plays in every facet of defense. He projects as a good starter in the middle of a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme.

For more than 640 player scouting reports from Russ Lande and his team of former NFL scouts — plus updated mock draft, Super 99 rankings and more — go to warroom.sportingnews.com.

Sporting News’ Pro Football War Room has hundreds of player evaluations in preparation for the 2010 NFL draft. Here is a capsule look at prospect Brandon Spikes.

School: Florida
NFL position: ILB
Height: 6-2 7/8
Weight: 249
40 time: 4.74
Current projection: First-round pick
NFL comparison: James Laurinaitis, Rams

Brandon Spikes doesn't have elite athletic ability; he's just a playmaker.
Brandon Spikes doesn’t have elite athletic ability; he’s just a playmaker.

Vs. inside runs: Shows flexibility to bend knees and sink hips to take on lead blockers with good leverage. Is tough and aggressive. Reads and reacts quickly to inside runs, and sheds blockers quickly to make tackles. Shows the strength to hold his ground vs. fullbacks and offensive linemen at the point of attack. Sifts through traffic surprisingly well to find ballcarrier.

Vs. outside runs: Shows quick footwork and top-notch instincts to get started quickly at the snap. Lacks elite speed to make a lot of plays outside the tackle box, but compensates with excellent instincts and quickness to play faster than timed speed would indicate. Shows the knee bend to maintain balance and avoid blockers in the open field. Lack of elite speed will make it tougher for him to catch NFL ballcarriers near the sideline.

Blitz/coverage: Is not an explosive pass rusher, but often pressures the QB by attacking the blocker and jolting him backward. Lacks variety of pass-rush moves. Reads the QB well in zone coverage, reacting and closing quickly to deliver hard hits. Gets outside quickly to tackle backs on screen passes. Can cover running backs man-to-man on short routes. Can cover most tight ends man-to-man, but lacks elite speed to handle athletic tight ends downfield.

Run/pass recognition: Reads and reacts quickly, showing great instincts to play faster than his timed speed would suggest. Is aggressive, but doesn’t bite on play-action fakes. Does not get fooled by misdirection or trick plays, and is consistently in the right place at the right time.

Pursuit/tackling: Lacks the elite speed to consistently chase down NFL ballcarriers along the sideline, but should make a lot of plays between the hash marks. When in pursuit, maintains good balance and plays under control to break down and make open-field tackles. Is a wrap-up tackler, but also drives up into the ballcarrier to deliver violent hits.

Bottom line: In games we graded, Spikes was involved in one of every 6.4 plays, an excellent ratio, especially against SEC competition. He is not the premier athlete NFL coaches drool over, but he is a good all-around athlete with the strength and smarts to make plays in every facet of defense. He projects as a good starter in the middle of a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme.

For more than 640 player scouting reports from Russ Lande and his team of former NFL scouts — plus updated mock draft, Super 99 rankings and more — go to warroom.sportingnews.com.

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