March 17, 2010
By Bo Jessee
After the Senior Bowl, the NFL Scouting Combine and UC's Pro Day the Bearcats' top two draft prospects, Tony Pike and Mardy Gilyard, are finally just a few individual workouts away from finishing the pre-draft process.
While the pressure of performing at their workouts is almost behind them, Gilyard and Pike still face the anxiety of waiting for their names to be called during the draft (April 22-24).
For Gilyard, the wait might not be too long. Jerry Jones, who publishes an NFL draft guide called The Drugstore List, predicts Gilyard will be selected toward the end of the second round.
Despite his excellent senior season, there are still concerns about Gilyard's size and speed.
"I don't think he can fall below the second round primarily because of his return abilities," Jones said. "That will counter the idea that he's not all that big and he's not all that fast."
The idea that Gilyard is not all that fast came from him running a less-than-stellar 4.56 second 40-yard dash at the Combine.
"I'm not a straight-line guy," Gilyard said. "That's not me; that's not my M.O. I run away from people that run 4.3s. I'm not a 4.3-in-a-straight-line guy. I haven't run track in forever."
Gilyard did improve his 40-yard dash time to a 4.47 at Pro Day. Jones, however, said he thought 40-yard dash times were overrated in evaluating NFL prospects.
"The NFL has spent very big money on guys that ran dynamic 40s and turned out to be nothing," Jones said. "You think Wes Welker is fast? Did Wes Welker get invited to the combine? And he's not bad."
Jones has Gilyard ranked as the seventh-best receiver in the draft and said he was originally ranked second before a number of talented junior wide outs declared for the draft early.
Jones has Pike rated as the fifth quarterback to be taken overall, one spot behind Tim Tebow. He said Pike improved his draft stock with his solid workouts.
But after missing games in each of his last two seasons, the big question about Pike is his injury history.
"I'm a believer that if Tony Pike didn't have the injury history, he might be the best prepared quarterback in the draft," Jones said. "If he'd never been hurt then we'd assume he would have played the whole season and he could have put numbers up that just would have been off the wall. The injuries he's had are working against him but you can't do anything about them."
Pike said he expects to be taken somewhere in the first three rounds.
"They're kind of saying second or third right now, but as far as that goes, you don't know anything," Pike said. "As a quarterback, it's a tough position because you can slide so much. But at the same time, you can also get that team that falls in love with you and wants to take you higher."
Jones said he'd be surprised if Pike wasn't taken somewhere in the third round.
"He's kept his interceptions down, he can throw the ball well and he's got the arm," Jones said. "I think he's a guy that just needs some smoothing over."
According to Jones, NFL scouts have taken interest in Jeff Linkenbach and Curtis Young but he isn't sure if either would be drafted.
"There's not another UC guy that jumps right out at you," Jones said. "I've kind of enjoyed watching Aaron Webster, but he's not going to be a high ranked guy. I like Alex Daniels, too, but he's not going to be a high-ranked guy either. There might be a third guy that gets drafted, but that depends on what the shortages are in the league. I would say Ricardo Matthews is the next guy down to me after Gilyard and Pike."