Gilyard’s one of the draft’s great stories, a player who’s gone from high school troubles to flunking out at Cincinnati to becoming one of the league’s best leaders.
He’s been wildly productive on the field too (2,467 yards and 22 touchdowns in the last two years) and he’s a proven dynamo as a return man, which is always an added value come draft time. He has undeniably quick hands and feet, and in a phone conversation before practice started this week NFL Network draft expert Mike Mayock said, “He sure is fun to watch on tape.”
In person in Mobile, Gilyard’s been just as fun – and occasionally not. After running a lot of slants, bubble screens and crosses in college, he’s shown he can run solid NFL routes and ESPN analyst Todd McShay wrote that he “got off the line better than any other wideout” during press coverage drills early in the week. But he’s also dropped a lot of balls and Wes Bunting of the National Football Post echoed many voices who’ve worried over Gilyard’s – as Bunting called it – “frail” frame.
“He lacks the physicality needed to consistently fight his way through physical corners, (he) hasn’t looked real explosive out of his breaks and (he) has had a tough time separating vs. man,” Bunting wrote.
Mayock had Gilyard pegged as an early second round pick. He may have some work to do come combine time to prove that’s where he stays.
Cincinnati QB Tony Pike (6-6, 212)
While not quite drawing the same curiosity level as Tim Tebow, Pike certainly was one of the quarterbacks scouts were anxious to see this week. He closed his Cincinnati career by throwing for a touchdown in 17 straight games and amassing 5,018 yards and 49 touchdowns. His completion percentage (61.7) is the highest in school history, he’s shown excellent touch on short passes and he came to Mobile with a reputation for accuracy and getting rid of the ball on time.
He also came in with a reputation for scrawniness. And the Senior Bowl weigh-in – where he measured just 212 pounds – didn’t help his cause. Pike’s reportedly made an excellent interview subject and done his best to assuage fears about his injuries (he missed four games and has a metal plate in his left arm) this past week. McShay wrote that he was “very efficient” during seven-on-seven drills and commended him for having the best arm among the North quarterbacks.
Pike will still have to prove he can make the transition from a spread offense to more pro-style ones and Mayock said right now, he’s likely a third round pick. At the same time, Mayock warned that it’s early yet for assessing quarterbacks. He remembers his fellow “experts” pegging Phillip Rivers as a third round pick just around this time too back in 2004.
“He’s interesting because he’s a big kid, accurate and has an above-average arm,” Mayock said. “But is he going to put weight on?”