Terrelle Pryor is expected to apply for the NFL's supplemental draft -- likely to be held in July -- after the quarterback announced through his lawyer Tuesday that he will not play for Ohio State in 2011.
Already one of five Buckeyes suspended for the first five games of next season, speculation about Pryor's future ratcheted up with coach Jim Tressel's Memorial Day resignation.
|Terrelle Pryor last appeared in an Ohio State uniform at the spring game; will he ever wear an NFL jersey? (US Presswire)|
While Pryor has become Public Enemy No. 1 in Ohio, there is a perception in some circles that the NFL can't wait for the 6-foot-6, 235-pound Pryor to arrive.
That perception doesn't match reality, according to two high-ranking NFL sources.
One characterized Pryor last week as a "mid-round pick at best" if he were to enter the supplemental draft.
"[Pryor] is a nice college player playing in a system that caters to his strengths," said a source from an NFC team speaking on the condition of anonymity. "He's a basketball player playing football, though, when it comes to the NFL. He's not a quarterback. He doesn't have the makeup, the release or the accuracy for it."
Some numbers dispute the claim that Pryor lacks the accuracy to be a successful quarterback in the NFL. In his third season as a starter in an offense that blends the option with a pro-style attack, Pryor led the Big Ten with 27 touchdown passes and finished third in passing efficiency (157.9). He completed 65 percent of his passes last season and has shown better than average accuracy on some of the more difficult throws -- including when rolling out to either direction or deep downfield.
"Sure, the stats and highlight reels say he's a star," the source countered, "but show me the ability to read the defense and progress to his next option. Defenses are scared of his running ability -- and they should be -- but in our league, he'll need to make pre- and post-snap adjustments and stick throws on third down. I haven't seen him do that consistently."
A second NFL talent evaluator also speaking on the condition of anonymity expressed reservations about Pryor's ability to transition to the NFL, based more on his lack of maturity than his physical talent.
"He is a classic example of a very highly recruited player signing with a big program that hasn't matured into the type of player most NFL teams are looking for," said the source, a longtime talent evaluator for an AFC team. "There is obviously a lot of hype around him. I can't speak for the entire NFL, of course, but I can tell you that media and fan hype doesn't mean he's a top prospect."
Pryor has flaws even as a talented athlete with the upside to warrant early-round consideration. NFLDraftScout.com currently has him rated as a second/third-round value and No. 4 among senior quarterbacks projected for the 2012 draft.
Given that the '11 draft featured four quarterbacks selected among the first 12 picks and that there are still several NFL teams desperate for help at the position without free agency or veteran trades, Pryor might appear to be in good position to make the supplemental draft leap. Furthermore, Pryor wouldn't necessarily be far behind his fellow rookies by getting drafted in July rather than April. The Class of 2011 hasn't been to any rookie minicamps.
The AFC scout thought the argument for leaving school early for the supplemental draft was valid for some players, but he didn't think Pryor was one of them before the announcement that Pryor would not play again for the Buckeyes
"I would be surprised if he came out [for the supplemental draft]," he said. "Sure some teams need quarterbacks, but there always are. The timing might be right for some players to take advantage of, but it is wrong in my opinion for [Pryor]. Teams would look at it like he was running away from his problems, rather than facing them. No one wants that kind of guy, especially not as a potential face of the franchise."
Pryor has 35 career starts under his belt, but he no longer has the opportunity to change the evaluation of scouts on the field during game situations. Most important, he can't show improved maturity by overcoming the scandal at Ohio State and prove he's an on-field leader.
"We've talked about the emotional roller coaster that he is going through," James told the Plain Dealer, "and even if he was cleared 100 percent it was going to be difficult."
Pryor is a likely candidate for a Senior Bowl invitation or other senior all-star game if he passes on the supplemental draft.
Many talent evaluators -- including this one -- project Pryor as a possible convert to a different position. At 6-6, 235 pounds and reportedly running in the 4.4-4.5 range, Pryor could prove a Vincent Jackson-like threat as a wide receiver or tight end. His ability to transition to those positions, of course, would largely be determined by his straight-line speed, route-running ability and hands.
Most important, Pryor would have to be willing to make the switch. Considering the success he has had as a quarterback, it might be difficult to convince him he's better suited to catch the ball six or eight times a game, rather than handling it on every snap at the game's most valuable position.
The switch would require Pryor to check his ego at the door -- which is precisely why both sources were uncertain if he would do it.
"He isn't one of those guys that you can just make into another position," the NFC scout said. "He's going to run well and people are going to get excited about him, but he isn't a football player. What you've seen at Ohio State -- on the field and off -- is what you get with him."
Rob Rang is Senior Analyst for NFLDraftScout.com, distributed by The Sports Xchange.