Pike, Gilyard improved in Cincy pro day

Tony Pike and Mardy Gilyard got another chance to impress NFL
scouts, this time on their own turf. They think they pulled it off
together.

The quarterback and receiver who led Cincinnati to back-to-back
Big East titles were the main feature at the university’s pro day
on Wednesday. Twenty-six teams were represented, with 49ers coach
Mike Singletary in the crowd.

The highlight was Pike throwing various routes to Gilyard,
reprising the combination that was one of the Big East’s best.
They’re still learning NFL pass routes, which can be much different
from the ones they used in college. Both talked to scouts afterward
to get their appraisals.

“Just from talking to guys right now, they’re extremely happy
with what they saw today,” Pike said. “It’s an ongoing process to
get those (NFL) routes down and get on the same page, but I think
it went well today.”

Both had specific improvements in mind compared to how they did
at the NFL scouting combine last month, where Pike’s passes
sometimes wobbled and some of Gilyard’s 40-yard dash times topped
4.5 seconds.

Wearing black shorts and a white shirt on a mild day, Pike made
all types of throws from midfield, occasionally missing players
filling in as receivers. He showed he was still in sync with
Gilyard, repeatedly hitting him in stride.

Pike is making some adjustments to satisfy NFL teams, who wanted
to see better spirals after his combine workout.

“I was happy with the combine workout,” Pike said. “I felt my
accuracy was fine. The spirals is what a lot of teams want to see.
Obviously guys in the NFL don’t throw them (always), but right now
it’s important. And I was happy with how I came out and threw today
compared to the combine. The accuracy was there, and overall I had
a good day.”

One of the biggest questions about Pike involves his
non-throwing arm. He broke his left forearm as a junior and had a
plate inserted. He broke it again last season and had to have a
larger plate inserted, then returned and played with a protective
cast.

A foot-long scar runs along the underside of the forearm, a
reminder of his last surgery. The arm has healed – he doesn’t wear
anything protective on it – but NFL teams focused on it at the
combine.

“Obviously you go through the combine and you’ve got 32 teams
basically trying to pull the plate out,” Pike joked. “And I made
it through and was fine with it, and all the X-rays and everything
else they put you through came back fine. So there’s no problems.
It’s not holding me back in any of my training.”

Gilyard’s biggest shortcoming at the combine was his time in the
40-yard dash. He worked on getting a better start and relaxing, and
got better results running on the artificial turf at Nippert
Stadium, where he was timed at 4.47 seconds.

“I know one thing I did today: I surprised somebody because my
times were night and day from the combine,” Gilyard said. “I know
I surprised somebody out there, so I think I moved up on somebody’s
draft board.”

Gilyard was one of the nation’s top receivers and kick returners
during his senior season. He greatly improved his NFL draft
standing with his performance at the Senior Bowl, where he had 103
yards receiving and a 32-yard touchdown catch.

Gilyard is hoping to go in the first or second round. Several
Bengals coaches attended the workout, though the team hasn’t given
him any indication that it’s particularly interested. The Bengals
could use a slot receiver and kick returner, and Gilyard would love
to stay in town.

“Ain’t no team going to show their hand,” he said. “It’s like
a poker game. I didn’t understand it at first, but I understand it
now. If a team likes somebody, they’re not going to show their
hand.”

Gilyard had mixed feelings about performing at Nippert Stadium
again. About 100 students sat in the stands, watching the workout
between classes.

“Here, you’ve got everybody that’s seen you make so many plays,
and they expect you to make every play,” Gilyard said. “It’s like
you’re relaxed because you’re back in your home stadium, you’re
around your fans and so forth. But by the same token, everybody’s
been watching me make so many spectacular plays out here and Pike
make so many spectacular throws that they just expect everything to
be spectacular. So that adds a little more pressure as well.”