PROS: Has a good, strong arm and can make all of the throws. Shows the ability and potential to drive the ball downfield, and shows nice touch on many of his deeper throws. Has good accuracy and does well on the short and intermediate throws. Shows nice anticipation at times, and has the touch to throw to the back shoulder where only his guy can make the play. Able to go through progressions and occasionally will show ability to look off the safety. Has good mobility and throws well on the run. Comfortable moving outside the pocket. Has the mobility to sidestep pass rusher and find throwing lanes within the pocket. Works well on the bootleg, and is very good rolling left and able to throw across his body with good zip. Has the ability to extend plays outside the pocket and keeps his eyes downfield. Comfortable making pre-snap reads although isn't asked to audible much. Shows pretty good decision making for the most part.
CONS: At times trusts his arm a bit too much and will force passes. He'll underthrow some guys on the deep throw. Will stare down receivers. Needs to do a better job improving his recognition on blitzes. Will float some passes out there and needs to show more zip. Doesn't always show a quick release, and it might hurt his arm strength as the ball doesn't fire out. Needs to do a better job securing the ball when he's outside the pocket. Doesn't always lead receivers, and his accuracy dips when he's under duress and asked to move around in the pocket. Needs to do a better job setting his feet at times. Has a tendency to get happy feet at times, focusing too much on the pass rush. Holds onto the ball too long at times. Probably needs to bulk up some as he has a thin build.
OVERVIEW: Pike has all the tools to be a good NFL starter at the next level. He has good size and arm strength, and is comfortable when he's able to improvise and able to make big plays. Pike has limited experience, but has shown a fairly good growth curve from the beginning of his time as the starter in 2008 to the end of 2009. Only got his opportunity in '08 because of injuries. Managed to start 10 games, completing 61.4% of his passes for 2407 yards, 19 TDs, and 11 INTs. Passed for 2520 yards, 29 TDs, and 6 INTs, while completing 62.4% of his passes. Went 16-3 as a starter. Missed 4 games this past year due to surgery to fix a plate in his broken non-throwing arm, an injury he suffered the year before. Played with a cast much of the '08 season.
NFL FORECAST: Pike is a player that I think with good coaching, can be a very good NFL starter. I don't think he has the leadership potential and intangibles to be a top NFL starter, but I think if you give him some weapons and protect him halfway decent, you're going to get a pretty good starter. I think he has enough intangibles, that I think he could start as a rookie and handle it, although he's not quite ready. He works mainly out of the shotgun in Cincy's spread attack, but I've seen him flash pocket awareness, so I don't think it should be a huge transition for him to play as a dropback passer. His biggest hurdle there I think will be taking the snap from center. He has done it in their offense, just not on a regular basis. His size, arm strength, and mobility will draw comparisons to Joe Flacco and Ben Roethlisberger. They are not off, although I think both of those guys are stronger and have better arms. I think Pike has a good arm, but I think his release might need to be tweaked somewhat to make it better. There is nothing technically wrong with it, but for whatever reason the ball doesn't come out with the velocity you'd like to see, so I think if he can get that released quickened somewhat, you'll see that big strong arm that teams covet. He flashes the touch and accuracy that could make him a very good vertical passer. He's had some ups and downs at Cincinnati, so I think he has the mental toughness to respond to adversity. And he's shown much better consistency and improved decision making from his junior to senior season, so I like that. I don't think it's going to take a ton of work with him to make him into a competent NFL starter. I think that on the right team, in the same vein as Flacco, where the onus isn't on him to make the offense go, he can be a playoff-caliber quarterback within three seasons. In time, I think he has the tools to become a better passer, but I think his long-term potential is probably closer to Jake Delhomme than Ben Roethlisberger. He can win games in the NFL and lead a team to the playoffs, but unless you surround him with superb talent, you're going to see a lot of first and second round exits.
ATL FORECAST: Pike would be a good option behind Ryan, as I do think he's fairly NFL ready considering the offense he's coming from. His potential and ability is good enough where he could surpass all but Ryan on the depth chart by the end of his second season. Unfortunately, he is not going to be a starter in Atlanta, so the best you could hope for is that he is traded three or four years down the road.
VALUE: Pike is a solid second round pick for a team that is looking for a guy that can potentially excel in a vertical passing game. He's not a franchise QB, but I think could potentially have NFL success quicker than some of the better QBs in the league.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
ARM STRENGTH: 4.0
DECISION MAKING: 3.0
POCKET AWARENESS: 3.0
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.