NEW YORK -- With the 18th pick in the first round, the New York Jets select Louisville safety Calvin Pryor.
At 5-11, 207, Pryor has the prototypical size for today's NFL safety but his 4.58 40-time at the February combine had some evaluators wondering in the months leading up to the draft if he would primarily be used as an in-the-box safety because of suspect coverage skills.
And there was much rejoicing by the usually salty Jets fans at Radio City Music Hall.
There's clearly still a place for such a player, as evidenced by Jets using a first-round pick on him. NFLDraftScout.com senior analyst Rob Rang describes Pryor as showing "no desire for self-preservation when taking on blockers, dropping to take them out at the knees and often is able to take out the ballcarrier." And despite coverage concerns, Pryor has very good ball skills.
Interestingly, one of the traits historically associated with the position could be considered a detriment in today's kindler, gentler NFL. Range describes Pryor as "Almost too physical in an era in which heavy hitters often draw penalty flags ... (he sometimes) drops his shoulder into defenders but some of his hits could be interpreted as leading with the crown of his helmet."
Congrats @CP3_850! One of the toughest and most physical safeties I've ever coached!— Charlie Strong (@Strong_TexasFB) May 9, 2014
Despite the league coming more pass-heavy in recent seasons, players like the Steelers' Troy Polamalu and, more recently, the Seahawks' Cam Chancellor have shown that safeties playing near the line of scrimmage can still be game-changers. That's what coach Rex Ryan is hoping he has in Pryor.
CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco is so-so on the pick:
Pryor: Jets had to get safety help, so this makes sense. He is a thumper in the run game, which will help. GRADE: B- http://t.co/KPxAyHqyNs— Pete Prisco (@PriscoCBS) May 9, 2014