40: 5.05 (Campus)
PROS: A solid tackler with hitting power that usually makes the stop in the open field. Plays with nice instincts and is a good run stopper. Best when he's allowed to attack upfield. Shows good potential as a blitzer either up the middle or off the corner. Shows strength to take on blockers both vs. the run and as a pass rusher. Can filter through traffic and make stop at the point of attack. Closes quickly on the ball in pursuit. Shows ability to read the quarterback in zone, keeping things in front of him and breaking quickly on the ball in coverage.
CONS: Lacks speed and burst. Won't really make a lot of things happen in pursuit as he lacks range to make plays sideline to sideline. Will get stuck in the trash at times, and overpursue at others. Is a physical player that borders on dirty play at times.
OVERVIEW: Spikes is a productive, physical player that was the leader of the Florida defense like Tebow was for their offense. He lacks the ideal speed, but his production and instincts should make up for a lot of that. His production dipped as a senior. As sophomore and junior, he combined for 224 tackles, 24 for loss, 3.5 sacks, 4 picks, and 9 passes defended. As a senior, he had only 68 tackles, 6.5 for loss, 3 sacks, 2 picks, and 3 breakups. Returned 4 picks for scores in his career. Was made infamous by an attempted eye-gouging of a Georgia player in a dogpile. Saw other plays he made that could be considered dirty, such as trying to deliver an elbow to the helmet on a receiver when tackling him.
NFL FORECAST: When I first saw Spikes play, I wasn't overly impressed with his ability, but then after a few more games, I saw that he just simply had a knack for making plays. And because of that I think he can have a solid if not very good NFL career. Despite his lack of speed, he's one of the rare prospects that can overcome that. But he'll have to be hidden by the scheme. The best scheme for him is a 3-4 scheme. That way he can play inside the box, not be asked to make a ton of plays outside the hashmarks, and do what he does well which is get upfield and put pressure on the quarterback. Despite his lack of speed, he is good in zone, and has good awareness and instincts when playing there. But he'll struggle in man coverage because he can really only be expected to keep up with slower tight ends. So he'd struggle in a 4-3 scheme, unless he was flanked by two very fast, rangy outside linebackers. He might be better off playing the SAM spot in a 4-3 because he's better working near the line of scrimmage. Again, his lack of speed would make him struggle in man coverage against tight ends and backs. He plays faster than he runs, but is still probably a guy that at best has below average speed for an NFL linebacker. In a 3-4 scheme, he can be a productive starter, although his athletic limitations may prevent him from being a top playmaker.
ATL FORECAST: Spikes could play on the strongside for the Falcons because he's more physical and potentially a better pass rusher than Nicholas is. Like Nicholas, he'd likely be pulled off the field in passing situations, but at least has the more physical potential to be more productive on first and second down. But they are essentially the same type of player in the Falcons scheme, although Spikes can bring a much more physical attitude vs. the run than Nicholas does. And on occasions where he is on passing downs and would be much more capable in zone coverage. He would also make a decent backup MLB if Lofton was forced to sit out due to injury. He wouldn't be a star in Atlanta, but an upgrade over Nicholas capable of getting 90+ tackles per year.
VALUE: For a 3-4 team envisioning him in the middle, he could merit a late second or early third round pick. For a 4-3 team that tries him in the middle or strongside, would probably get better value in the fourth or fifth round.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
POINT OF ATTACK: 4.0
PASS RUSH: 3.5
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.