It seems only yesterday that the NFL regular season ended with the unpredicted New Orleans Saints hoisting the Lombardi Trophy high above their heads and leaving NFL fans the disappointment of heading into another long and drawn out offseason break. However, here we are weeks before the Draft, and although the speculation has been huge, I can't help but notice that there has been a list of players left out of the talk.
With the obvious projected No. 1 picks such as Tim Tebow, Sam Bradford, and Jimmy Clausen more or less hogging the spotlight, most of us simply haven't had the time to get around to lesser known guys such as Toby Gerhart, Eric Berry, and more importantly, Tony Pike.
Of course this isn't the first time that great players have gone unnoticed come draft time, but I have taken it upon myself to give Tony Pike the recognition he deserves, because to be quite frank, he is a sleeper pick that many teams could do with come September of the 2010 season.
What Tony brings to the table is a plate full of talent, experience, and a well screwed on head that knows the game of football, and is aware of just what to expect in the harsh but well paying world of NFL football. With that said, he does have his flaws that he needs to work on, but that is no reason to discount him come April 22.
Therefore, here's a look at what Tony Pike does bring to the Draft and what he could do for any lucky team that has the privilege of signing him, along with the flaws that could hold Pike back from achieving his potential.
The list of pros for Tony Pike isn't exactly that long, but it is short and to the point. The first point that has been well covered recently is Pike's ability to throw the short to intermediate route with a great deal of precision. In his time with the Cincinnati Bearcats, Tony became an almost Jimmy Clausen like quarterback, in that he chose when to throw the deep ball, but obviously preferred the quick bullet pass to a trusty wide receiver.
Although this type of play is already fairly present in the NFL, it is something that teams will consider come Draft day. With gunslingers such as Sam Bradford being the talking point, it's painfully obvious that not all teams want a deep ball throwing type quarterback, and would prefer a well contained guy that can just develop at his own pace and put points on the board.
Arm strength is something Pike also brings to the board, as his ability to zip passes into receivers and keep the play moving smoothly and efficiently is something that teams such as the St. Louis Rams or Seattle Seahawks could use come next season.
Finally, Pike also has a great ability to run with the football, which unfortunately goes unnoticed at times. He does a tremendous job of stepping up into the pocket, and has come to resemble a sort of Aaron Rodgers cross Matt Schaub type quarterback when he takes off with the ball. Aside from this, his ability to run often opens up the field a lot more for Pike, and given his arm strength this makes him an all around great quarterback to scramble, deliver, and post an exciting touchdown.
The cons are quite short for Pike, but they are also issues that are quite large and do need some addressing.
The first is of course his size. Not height wise, but weight wise, Pike doesn't exactly struggle when the pressure is on, but is a worry when a hard landing sack rattles him around a little. Until he beefs up his diet and hits the weights that little bit harder, he will always be an undersized quarterback. Of course this is a problem that is easily fixed given the right trainers, diet, and exercising equipment, but Draft analysts have criticised Pikes size, and it may come back to bite him.
Finally, the bigger issue is also just where Pike may be taken in the Draft. Predicted to be taken in the second round, it is important for Pike that he signs with a team that needs him, rather than just one that will allow him to sit on the bench and be a spectator. He had to battle for his starting job in Cincinnati, so some time off isn't what Pike needs. A quick and motivational jab at a starting position is what Tony Pike truly needs.
Overall, I can't understand why Pike has failed to receive and recognition or the time of day from fans and experts. On paper, he appears to be a picture perfect match as a starting quarterback for any team, and his never give up type attitude is what puts him ahead of the rest.
Still, Pike is just the type of guy that will go unnoticed but make a hard and in your face impact in the NFL. Strong when the pressure is on, a solid quarterback and a great runner, Tony Pike is a potential gem for any team who is lucky enough to land him come Draft day.
Don't forget to follow Ryan Cook on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/RyanCook13