2015 NFL draft prospect Mike Reilly will need to dominate the FCS again next season if he’s going to find his way into the middle rounds.
Reilly, a defensive lineman at The College of William & Mary, is a 6’4”, 265-pound senior-to-be who is coming off of a stellar junior season. He’s put himself on the radar for many NFL scouts and general managers after destroying FCS offensive tackles on his way to a decorated season.
I spoke with Reilly, and he reiterated his fervent desire to get drafted and live out his dream of playing in the NFL.
As a junior, Reilly earned third-team All-American honors from the Associated Press. Caraun Reid, another third-team All-American defensive lineman, played against competition similar to Reilly and is being talked about as a middle-round pick. Reilly still has another year to improve his status.
“It’s always great to get recognition along with other great players,” Reilly told me. “It certainly helps with exposure when coming from a smaller school. It’s always exciting to see small-school players get their opportunity to shine like Caraun Reid is right now.”
Reilly has tremendous quickness around the edge, and his burst off the ball is similar to many of this year’s top defensive line prospects. The William & Mary defensive end should end up as a fourth- or fifth-round pick in 2015, pending a solid senior season.
Upon reviewing Reilly’s film, I was especially impressed with his mean streak. He registers a good amount of quarterback hits, finding his way to the pocket and forcing opposing passers to accelerate their decision-making process.
The Tribe All-American fits best as a 6- or 7-technique defensive end in a 4-3 defensive front. He compares to Patriots defensive ends Rob Ninkovich and Chandler Jones, and while it’s too early to talk about potential team fits (we haven’t even gotten through the 2014 draft), Reilly could certainly contribute on a rotational basis in New England.
“I definitely see myself as a 4-3 defensive end,” Reilly said. “However, I also feel like I’m very versatile and could play anything from 3-4 end or 3-4 outside linebacker to 4-3 end, but 4-3 end is where I’m more comfortable right now.”
At the point of attack, Reilly wins with an impressive swim move and makes FCS offensive tackles look foolish a lot of the time. He’ll need to prove his worth against FBS tackles at senior All-Star games after next season, like the East-West Shrine Game or the Senior Bowl.
That said, he’s already had dominant performances against FBS tackles. Reilly had two sacks and forced a fumble against West Virginia last year, and he will have a similar opportunity this season when William & Mary plays Virginia Tech.
“It’s always exciting playing bigger schools, especially at their stadiums,” Reilly said. “I love to compete every day, so an opportunity to compete at an All-Star game would be tremendous.”
Only a junior, Reilly has already dominated the FCS. Along with his All-American selection, the defensive lineman earned first-team all-conference honors and led the CAA in sacks with 11.5. He was no slouch in the run game, either, registering 47 tackles and 13 for loss. Reilly also forced four fumbles, recovered a fumble and had a pass deflection.
Though he hasn’t performed against the best competition in the country, Reilly has given NFL evaluators a reason to put him on their 2015 radar. As a player who should challenge for a spot in the 2015 draft, he’ll likely participate in the University of Virginia’s pro day after next season.
Don’t be surprised when the defender puts up big-time numbers at the event, just like he has throughout his collegiate career.
A big senior season will solidify his rising draft stock in a positive way.
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