New QB Has Starting Potential

Don't take our word for it. ESPN analyst and former Philadelphia quarterback Ron Jaworski talks to Packer Report about new practice squad QB Mike Reilly and the player he replaced, Brian Brohm. Jaworski was high on Reilly before the draft and his opinion has not changed.

After the draft, Packer Report Magazine had a feature on NFL Films' Greg Cosell. As part of the feature, Cosell and ESPN's Ron Jaworski raved about Division II quarterback prospect Mike Reilly, who signed with the Packers on Thursday.

We talked to Jaworski from his office at NFL Films on Thursday evening, and his thoughts on Reilly haven't changed.

Packer Report: Are you still as high on Reilly as you were before the draft?

Jaws: I thought the Saints were going to sign him earlier this week. He went down there to work out, and I was in New Orleans a couple weeks ago for a Monday night game against Atlanta. (Saints general manager) Mickey Loomis was telling me they were going to bring him in, they really liked him — they brought him in but they didn't sign him. Hey, the Packers got him. I think they've got a kid with some real upside. I really, really do.

Packer Report: What did you see out of him?

Jaws: At the draft, I was very critical of teams who were not taking this kid in the late rounds. I'm not going to say my evaluation is always right, because I've missed on a few too, but I thought this kid — fifth, sixth, seventh round — was a kid that showed upside. Everyone's asking, ‘Hey, where's the next Tom Brady? You know, at 199, sixth round, blah, blah, blah.' And I said, here's a kid who I really liked. I ended up looking at one tape on him and was so impressed that I just got more tape on him. It was like watching high school tape when I first looked at him because there was nobody at the game out there. But the one thing I noticed is he had all the throws. He had a good feel for the pocket. He read the blitzes, he had a good feel for where the coverage was going to be. He got the ball out of his hand. I was really impressed with him. I've got to tell you, obviously I'm just looking at tape, but then I saw earlier this preseason, we were up in Latrobe at the Steelers' camp and I watched him very closely. I liked the way the ball came out of his hand. He had a good spin on it, he's got good arm strength and he's just one of those guys that you have to give reps to. Give him time. I think it's a good situation for him up in Green Bay.

Packer Report: I'm telling you — I'm going to write this story and I'll have at least 10 e-mails from people telling me that this kid is from Division II Central Washington.


Mike Reilly completed 10-of-15 passes in the preseason for Pittsburgh.
Rick Havner/AP Images
Jaws: You know what? I would almost take that as a compliment, because, my own personal feeling and — 1973 I came into this league, 36 years, and I love guys that are hungry. I'm a big advocate of small-school guys that have talent, because they come in the NFL and they want to prove a lot of people wrong. Tom Brady still has a chip on his shoulder. That's how he is right now. I think Brady Quinn has a chip on his shoulder. I want guys that are going to be angry, they want to prove other people wrong, and I think MIke is one of those guys. I don't care where you play. I went to Youngstown State. Steve McNair went to Alcorn State. Ken Anderson went to Augustana. The main thing is you're playing, and the thing about this kid is he played for four years. He wasn't a one-year wonder like Akili Smith or some of these other guys that come out and they draft them. Or Mark Sanchez, the guy doesn't have a year under his belt. Mike (McCarthy) wants a guy that's a three-year starter, he wants a guy that has a degree, he wants a mature guy to come into this league. You come in without experience, you come in as a guy that's not mature and not polished, man, the NFL will just rip your guts out. It's a hard, hard game and a tough, tough league. That's why I like Mike. He played for four years. It might have been Central Washington, but you know what? He was dropping back, he was reading coverage, he was getting his butt kicked, he was having people in his face. That's a whole lot different than sitting on the bench for three years and all of a sudden, it's your senior year and you come in and play great. It's never 100 percent, but I like guys that are hungry, I like guys that are from the smaller schools.

Packer Report: Well, he's hungry. Just talking to him today, he was thrilled to be here after going unsigned after four tryouts. Heck, he was working a real job!

Jaws: Well, he's got a real job now, and I'm happy for him. He's a great kid and I know he will bust his tail.

Packer Report: You know, I really liked Brian Brohm as a person, but from the first day of practice, it was obvious that he just couldn't throw the ball.

Jaws: Well, it was funny. We were out there last year and I was not real high on Brian. None of these things are personal. I got into a debate with (ESPN college analyst) Kirk Herbstreit and said, ‘Man, look at all the guys Brian Brohm had at Louisville. His receivers were all drafted, yet this guy just couldn't dominate.' And then when I saw him out at Green Bay when we were out there before that preseason game, I mean, he just didn't have an NFL arm. He had good accuracy and anticipation, but in this league, man, you've got to be able to throw some strikes and have a good fastball.

Packer Report: Yeah, there's not too many guys like Chad Pennington who can make it without a good arm.

Jaws: To me, JaMarcus Russell has a great arm but he's not very accurate. I still believe it starts with arm strength. You've got to be able to get the ball down the field. Those third-and-14s and third-and-15s, when you've got to squeeze it in, that's what separates guys right now. The anticipation and the ability to stroke it in there.

Packer Report: So, you think Reilly has that ability?

Jaws: Absolutely. Yes I do.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.


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