Some Patriots fans were sort of ho-hum about the Pats’ selections in the 2010 NFL Draft, but if you want to get excited about one player, get excited about former Florida Gator LB Brandon Spikes. Spikes ran a near 5.0 in the 40-yard dash at the Combine his pro day, which hurt his draft status. But Spikes’ loss in draft status was the Patriots’ gain. If you watch Spikes’ game footage, you will consistently see him among the first to get to the ball carrier, and he’s returned interceptions for touchdowns. Not bad for someone who runs a “5.0 40.” At the rookie mini-camp this past weekend, he was moving to the ball faster than any other player there, in part largely due to his intelligence and ability to read a play. He seems to fit the saying, “He plays faster than he times,” to a tee. What did Brandon Spikes have to say about his slow 40 time this past weekend? Well, his was response was slightly Belichickian, with his own little twist:
“It is what it is, but it ain’t what you think.”
Not bad. I’d love to hear Belichick use that at some press conference.
One of the things about Brandon Spikes that I’m most excited about is his leadership. In Florida, his importance to the defense was likened to Tim Tebow’s importance to the offense. There’s an example, which could be viewed as negative, that sticks out. Spikes was caught eye-gouging a player from Georgia, and coach Urban Meyers suspended him for the first half of the next game. However, Spikes suspended himself for the entire game. How often do you see that in sports, especially at the pro level. When asked about it at rookie mini-camp, his response was possibly more amazing than his self-inflicted suspension:
“Not really. As a man, you should know your consequences. I did it, I got caught, I suspended myself and the reason why I did, that I don’t know if y’all know, I know little kids, they watch the game. When I was little, I watched linebackers and tried to mold my game, and I didn’t want younger kids thinking that’s how the game should be played . It was just emotion, but in a rivalry game, it just happened. We were taking shots at each other. You know, I did it, I got punished for it, then you move on from your mistakes.”
The last piece of evidence I have for you is from an incident this past weekend at mini-camp. In a one-on-one drill, Spikes got juked out of his shoes. He then went back to the front of the line and executed his technique properly. I don’t remember ever hearing about that, or seeing it at any of the training camp sessions that I have been to. All this, and we haven’t even gotten to training camp or any preseason games. In my CBS mock draft selections for Round Two, I had Brandon Spikes going to the Pats for his leadership and what I saw in Florida Gator games. So far, he’s living up to those expectations. If he can bring this onto the field when Week One rolls around, the Patriots may have a lethal inside linebacker combination in Jerod Mayo and Brandon Spikes. That alone you gotta love.