Instant analysis: Brandon Spikes

FOXBORO -- The competition at inside linebacker in the Patriots' 3-4 defense has been heightened with the selection of Florida's Brandon Spikes (second round, No. 62 overall).

The selection also highlights one common thread from the team's three second-round selections -- big, physical prospects.

After selecting cornerback Devin McCourty in the first round, the Patriots have focused on players closer to the line of scrimmage with their next three picks, which could contribute to them becoming a tougher team.

As for Spikes, when looking at the 3-4 alignment, he'll join an inside linebacker mix that includes Jerod Mayo, Gary Guyton and Tyrone McKenzie.

Mayo is the everydown option there, so the question will be who lines up next to him. Guyton played approximately 84 percent of the snaps last year, second highest among defenders, and he already figured to be challenged by McKenzie, the 2009 third-round pick who missed last year with a torn ACL. The Guyton/McKenzie/Spikes competition figures to be one of the most intriguing in training camp.

Spikes dropped in the draft because he didn't time well in the 40-yard dash, so this is a pick in which the Patriots are going more on what they see on tape than test results.