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By Joe Buscaglia
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Bills top 20 talents: No. 16 - Brandon Spikes

Defense reigns supreme on the countdown of the top 20 talents on the Buffalo Bills roster, and that’s where the next player on the list takes us once again. The next member of the list has never played a down for the Bills, but has the type of game that makes the team believe he can make an immediate impact in an area that they’ve struggled for several seasons. 

The criteria for the top 20 is a blend of overall raw skill level, actual on-field performance and a projection as to what they might do in the future based on studying the players over the past couple of years. So who is number 16? A former villain to Bills fans and to a certain bearded quarterback that once started in Buffalo:

LB Brandon Spikes

Age: 26 (9/3/87)
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 255

Why he’s here:
- A rather peculiar end to his tenure with the New England Patriots after four seasons landed Spikes as an unrestricted free agent and Buffalo pounced on the middle linebacker for their 4-3 defensive scheme. Spikes is not the jack of all trades type, but he is a master at one part of his game. On run downs, the linebacker will be among the best weapons the Bills can arm themselves with to help stop a problem that has plagued them since Chan Gailey took over as the head coach in 2010. Although limited as an athlete in pass coverage, Spikes’ downhill, thumping style makes him an immediate upgrade to what they were working with last season in Arthur Moats on base sets to help stop opponents from getting big rushing gains.

2014 outlook:
- Spikes signed only a one-year contract with the team, and it screams as a “prove it” deal after the drama that unfolded in New England at the end of the 2013 season. The linebacker will likely be fully motivated to prove himself playing only on a one-year pact, and can provide the stability against the run when he’s in there. However, the Bills should not attempt to use him too much even though Kiko Alonso is likely lost for the season. Spikes is very good against the run, but his game is not as a normal three-down linebacker. The expectation is that he’ll be on the sidelines on those obvious passing downs.

Bills Top 20 Talents
20) TE Scott Chandler
19) CB Leodis McKelvin
18) QB EJ Manuel
17) DE Manny Lawson
16) LB Brandon Spikes
15) ??? - Wednesday, July 9 at 6 pm

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

**Photo courtesy of the AP​

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Locations : BuffaloNew England
People : Brandon SpikesChan GaileyKiko AlonsoLeodis McKelvinManny LawsonScott Chandler

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