Potential Draft Picks: Brandon Spikes, ILB, Florida
As I explained before, the Cowboys really need to get younger at the inside LB position. Bradie James and Keith Brooking really did a tremendous job last season, particularly in the leadership department, so their presence is not something that should just be tossed off to the wayside.
With such a talented roster, however, it will be tough for a rookie at any position, no matter where he is selected, to come onto this team and start. Thus, Dallas really has the luxury of taking the best player available at pick #27 (should they truly stay put, as Mr. Jones has declared they will do). If that best player available happens to be at ILB or on the offensive line, then the Cowboys will have also filled what will be a position of need within a year or two.
Earlier I profiled Alabama ILB Rolando McClain. While he would be tremendous value at the Cowboys draft spot, chances are they would have to move up to nab him. Florida’s Brandon Spikes, however, will almost certainly be available in the back of the first round. With some help, he could even fall to pick #59, although if the Cowboys like him enough, they’d probably have to move up a few spots in round two to secure the great value that would come with Spikes’ selection. Remember, this is a guy who was a consensus first-round pick before he came back for his senior season.
At 6’3”, 256 pounds, Spikes definitely has the requisite size to play inside in a 3-4 defense. He is a very instinctual player who does a great job of always being around the ball. His aggression can sometimes lead to him being out of position, however, and he does not have the speed to recover from taking bad angles, something he does from time to time. He may have trouble defending counters and misdirection plays in the NFL. When he is in position, however, Spikes displays tremendous strength by keeping his legs underneath him. Some have ridiculed him for going for the big hit too often, but I think he displays solid recognition skills of when and when not to do this. I also believe another popular knock on Spikes, that he is sub-par in coverage, is unfounded. While his hips and COD (change of direction) are not ideal, he does a good job getting into his drop and making a play on the football.
Spikes is a guy who will probably fall between the Cowboys’ first and second-round selections. While they will most likely stay put at pick #27, I could see Dallas moving up from pick #59 to grab Spikes should he fall toward the back of round two.