Tony Pike, QB - Cincinnati
Weight: 210 pounds
40 time: 4.89
One of the top quarterbacks in college football in 2009, Tony Pike enters the NFL after having been a two-year starter under head coach Brian Kelly with the Bearcats. In those two years, he threw for 4,927 yards, 48 touchdowns, 17 interceptions with a 61.9% completion percentage (410-662).
Pike is a large quarterback with a great frame for an NFL quarterback and with how tall he is, he sees the field very well. With good overall arm strength and nice accuracy, Tony is at his best when he is throwing short-to-intermediate, low-risk passes, however he does have the arm strength to throw the ball down the field. Pike is a very efficient quarterback, especially in the redzone; he’s safe with the ball and doesn’t turn it over very often. For how big he is, he has excellent mobility and escapability, and he’s capable of scrambling out of the pocket and making a play with his legs.
He’s also shown that he is capable of throwing the ball on the run, however he could probably use some more work in this area in order to be able to do this consistently at the next level. With how well he sees the field, Tony does a good job of going through his progressions. He puts nice touch on his throws and he understands how to times his throws. One of my biggest question marks surrounding Pike is whether or not he’s a system quarterback.
Coming out of high school he received little exposure and absolutely came out of nowhere to start for Cincinnati at the beginning of his junior year. From there, he went on to have success against Big-East teams that didn’t offer the most challenging defenses to throw against. Then, when he faced one of the better defenses in the country in the Florida Gators, Tony had one of the worst games of his career and the worst game of his senior year. I’m not saying that Pike won’t develop into a starter in the NFL, however I question if Brian Kelly’s terrific offense, which has propelled him to being named the head coach at Notre Dame, had a subsequent effect on Pike’s career.
As a quarterback, Pike could still use minor work on his footwork, considering he spent the majority of his college career in the shotgun and will need to learn how to play from under center; because of this, he’s also going to need to get used to taking snaps from under center. Durability is also going to be a concern for Pike; in 2008 he missed two games when he broke his forearm and dislocated the wrist in his non-throwing arm which required surgery where a plate and six screws were inserted to support the injury. In 2009, he broke the same forearm, which forced him out of action for three games. I project that Pike will be drafted in the second-to-third round. I’m not enamored with Pike as a prospect, although I do think that he could develop into a solid signal caller at the next level He has the size, arm, and tools needed to develop into a starting quarterback in the NFL; however, he’s a player who will need at least a year to get used to the pro game and to the nuances of being an NFL quarterback.. He’s a bit of a project, however he isn’t too far away from having a chance to lead an offense at the next level.
Pike was named first-team All-Big East in 2009 and second-team All-Big East in 2008. His dad, Steve, played linebacker at Kent State.
Obviously, there is upside to a quarterback who threw 49 touchdown passes in 27 college games (19 starts). Pike also has prototypical NFL quarterback height, a decent arm, and the capacity to make smart decisions, so an NFL team can find something to work with as a developmental quarterback. But his upside doesn’t come without question marks.
That said, the list of potential deal-breakers listed above—durability issues, concerns about how he’ll transition from Cincinnati to the pros—will not only scare off NFL teams but could do the same to dynasty owners as well. Pike’s upside may be too far down the road to warrant even a dynasty draft pick, especially if the odds of him holding up to a full 16-game slate appear to be long. Mix in the typical fantasy unfriendliness of rookie quarterbacks and Pike’s potential learning curve and he’s the kind of player who can be found in the free agent pool of just about any league.