Attention Patriots Fans: I have just established the Fellowship of Brandon Spikes. For all those who want to beat the rest of Patriot Nation and the other NFL-followers on the bandwagon feel free to join. The New England rookie has been with the team for just four months, yet in that time has already established himself as a starter.
In my mind, he's gone beyond just that. Spikes has shown that he's willing to do whatever it takes to be successful in this league. He has a motor that won't quit, and in a few years his attitude will make him perfectly suited to be a true leader on the defense. When I watch Spikes play, I can't help but be reminded of Ray Lewis. While that seems like lofty praise, I have absolutely zero doubts that Spikes not only will be a productive player, but a league-wide force of a linebacker.
Now before too many readers try to find out exactly where I am so they can burn me at the stake, let me reign in my hyperbole a little bit. I understand that Spikes is a rookie and will make rookie mistakes. That was painfully evident on Thursday when a young and still-learning New England defense was torched by a rookie quarterback in the Rams' Sam Bradford. However, the seeds of greatness are sown in Spikes and I see no barrier (save for injury) that he can't break through on his way to stardom.
One crucial element to the Patriots past success that was in short order on last year's team was a sense of responsibility. While this is something that coach Bill Belichick tries to instill in all of his players, some are obviously more receptive than others. Back in the early 2000s, Belichick loaded his team with players who already had this trait built in, and policed the locker room as professionals, looked up to by both veterans and rookies alike.
I see the same quality in Spikes. He's confident on the field and in what his role on the team is. He says and does all the right things with respect to the media, although as a rookie, his interaction with the press is relatively minimal. Perhaps best of all, he's got a built-in motivator when his stock dropped in the draft due to a poor combine.
That's where the comparison to Lewis doesn't seem quite so far-fetched. The Ravens' leader is listed at 6'2 and 250 lbs. Spikes is only an inch shorter and plays at about the same weight. Like Lewis, Spikes doesn't have a tremendous 40-yard dash time, but his instincts are so good that his game speed is much faster than his 40 indicates. Both players also have a track record of excellence and leadership. Prior to ascending as the face of Baltimore, Lewis was a dominant middle linebacker at the University of Miami when the Hurricanes were perennial NCAA title contenders. The same could be said of Spikes in his time at Florida.
Add it all up and the new number fifty-five in New England could be making plays like his numeric predecessor, Willie McGinest. While there's good reason to be optimistic about many of the young players on the Pats' defense, Spikes stands out. His resume, his desire and his attitude all appear to be exceptional, which should result in an exceptional player.