Sixth-round pick Tony Pike (6-foot-6, 222 pounds) is currently No. 4 on Carolina's depth chart. However, Pike is not worried about the uphill battle that lies ahead; he was Cincinnati's No. 5 QB heading into his junior preseason camp before he shot up the depth chart and authored one of the most dominant careers in Bearcats history.
Will Pike enjoy a similar ascent in Carolina? To find out, we check in with Cincinnati offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian.
LaShana Marshburn: How did your program help prepare Tony for the NFL?
Mike Bajakian: Obviously, he had great success here at Cincinnati. We were able to win championships at a competitive level. That prepares players for the next level.
QB Tony Pike
MB: Tony has great height. He finds open receivers and he sees the field well. He also makes plays with his feet in that he can escape the rush and find open receivers downfield.
LM: Was there one play from Tony's time at Cincinnati that stood out to you?
MB: I think the final TD pass against Pittsburgh that helped clinch the Big East Championship -- time is running out, the game is on the line, he stood in the pocket and threw a strike to Armon [Binns] down the sideline when everything was on the line -- that would be the one play that really proved his ability to handle pressure and play in pressure situations.
LM: What will be the biggest challenge for Tony as he adapts to the NFL?
MB: The biggest adjustment is getting used to the speed of the game. Physically, that's the biggest difference between the NFL and college. The windows he was throwing in at college are going to close a lot quicker in the NFL.
Physically and emotionally, I think the biggest difference between the NFL and college -- having coached in the NFL myself -- is the duration of the season. It will test his durability mentally to go through a 16-week regular season plus a four-game preseason. Often times, you see rookies kind of taper off in the middle or towards the end of the season. I think a part of that is mental, but these will be big adjustments.
LM: What is Tony like off the field?
MB: He is a very personable guy who seems to get along with everyone around him. The QBs in the program speak very highly of him. He is just the kind of guy that guys like being around.
Is Tony Pike Carolina's quarterback of the future? Discuss in the message boards.