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Brandon Spikes passed on being first round pick to return to Gators



When Florida LB Brandon Spikes decided to return for his senior season, no one was more suprised than ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper, Jr..

Although some reports said Spikes chose to return because he had slipped into the second round, Kiper said Wednesday morning that Spikes gave up a sure first-round pick by deciding not to leave early for the NFL.

"Spikes surprised me by going back,'' Kiper said. "I thought had he come out, he was the No. 1 middle linebacker in this draft. They moved him around, they got him outside in pass-rush situations. The big thing with him was what kind of speed he was going to show. If he ran well enough (at the combine and in work-outs) and showed the kind of speed you need to be an early-to-mid first rounder, I think he would have been in that discussion at 10 to 20.''

Following Florida's win over Oklahoma in the BCS national champioship, Spikes spent the next several days pondering his future. Although he told several teammates he was leaning toward returning, most assumed the lure of the first round would force him to choose the NFL. He waited until the final day underclassmen had to declare before announcing his decision to return.

"I think he would have been the top middle linebacker in the draft,'' Kiper said. "So that one did surprise me. Of all the juniors that went back, Spikes was probably one of the two or three that surprised me most.''

As for receiver Percy Harvin, who did decide to skip his senior season, Kiper said he expects him to be selected somewhere in the mid-first round, possibly at No. 17.

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 12:47pm]


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