AUBURN, Ala. (AP) _ Auburn linebacker Takeo Spikes is rising in the opinion of NFL draft analysts, but his coach figures he can reach the top five if he plays his senior season.

Spikes, a junior, has scheduled a news conference for Thursday to announce whether he will enter the NFL draft this year. The deadline for underclassmen to declare is Friday.

The 6-foot-2, 235-pound inside linebacker has been leaning toward staying at Auburn for his senior year, but his name continues to be mentioned often by NFL draft analysts.

One of the high-profile lists, published by Mel Kiper Jr., has elevated Spikes from 13th to seventh over the past month. Kiper said, however, that his list is not a reflection of where he thinks players will go in the draft, but simply his rating of the players.

Other draft publications had Spikes going anywhere from 10th to 20th in the first round if he decides to come out this season.

``If he leaves early, he will never know if he could have been a top five pick next season,'' Auburn coach Terry Bowden told The Montgomery Advertiser. ``Takeo has a chance to be a top five pick then. That's where the big money and the signing bonuses are.''

Spikes led the team this season in tackles with 136.