As the Steelers get ready to start training camp, I thought it would be fun to look at a couple of long shots to crack the final 53 man roster. Today we will start with undrafted free agent quarterback, Mike Reilly.
Mike Reilly is no stranger to uphill battles, Reilly started his college career in the Pac-10, for Washington State and was not given an honest shot at competing for the starting quarterback role. Reilly transferred to Central Washington to be able to get on the field and show his wares. In four years at the Division II school, Reilly set school records in completions (995), pass attempts (1,553), passing yards (12,448), passing touchdowns (118), completion percentage (64.1), quarterback rating (151.32) and rushing yards by a quarterback (1,263). He also managed to set the NCAA all-divisions record for consecutive games with a touchdown pass, having thrown one in all 46 games he played in. Reilly managed to do this while playing for three head coaches, three offensive coordinators, and three quarterback coaches while in school. He played both under center and in the shotgun in a mostly pass happy offense.
Going into the 2009 NFL draft, Reilly was projected as a 5th or 6th round selection by most experts after a good showing at the NFL combine. Draft day came and went and the Steelers ended up offering him a free agent contract immedietly after the draft. Reilly has adequate height at 6-3, but could stand to add some bulk to his frame. He has good size hands for an NFL quarterback. He also puts a nice touch on the ball with above average timing and accuracy. He can get the ball out quickly as well. Limited tape on him shows a good football IQ with reading defenses and can get out of the pocket and run when things collapse. He is a proven leader and makes good decisions.
Some drawbacks on him are that he lacks the ability to throw the deep ball and his mechanics need to be improved greatlly. The mechanics is a result of having inconsistent coaching at the college level and the deep ball might be able to be improved with strength training. Playing for a D2 school also led to questions about the quality of competition he faced as well. Reilly compares himself playing style wise to Kurt Warner in his ability to release the ball quickly and Ben Roethlisberger in his ability to make something out of broken plays.
There are of course 3 quarterbacks ahead of Reilly on the roster, but it is not out of the question that Reilly could bump veteran Charlie Batch from the number 3 spot if second year quarterback Dennis Dixon proves he can handle the number two role and Reilly takes advantage of every ounce of playing time he gets. Long shot? For sure, but even if he does not crack the final 53 man roster, he could surely be primed for a 2010 number 3 spot if signed to the practice squad.
Overall I think the practice squad is the ultimate destination for Reilly baring injury to any of the other three quarterbacks on the roster, but he should be fun to watch early on in pre-season games as he will likely work with a good core of third string receivers. Do not be surprised though if he sneaks in a steals the number three job, especially if Batch struggles.
Below is some of the limited video on Reilly from Central Washington.