National Columnist

Wideout? Pryor should stick to QB if he wants chance in NFL


Terrelle Pryor should just play wide receiver!

Like it's that easy.

It's not easy, and there's a long line of players who have ultimately bombed in the NFL at receiver. And I don't mean former college quarterbacks like Reggie McNeal, Isaiah Stanback and Matt Jones. I mean former college receivers -- great ones -- like Mike Williams and Reggie Williams. And Ashley Lelie. Charles Rogers. Troy Williamson. And Ted Ginn Jr., just to name one from Ohio State.

But Terrelle Pryor should move to wide receiver because, well, because it just makes so much sense!

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No it doesn't -- and if it seems like I'm arguing with myself, good. I'm trying to capture the feeling of insanity here, because this growing momentum about Terrelle Pryor becoming a capable NFL receiver is nuts.

Only two players in the last quarter-century have made the successful transition from college quarterback to NFL receiver: Antwaan Randle El (Indiana) and Ronald Curry (North Carolina). And that's it.

Don't email me just yet. I didn't forget about Josh Cribbs (Kent State) or Brad Smith (Missouri) or Brian Mitchell (Southwestern Louisiana), but they don't count in this argument because they didn't make it in the NFL as a receiver, or in Mitchell's case as a running back. They made it as return men. Do you see enormous Terrelle Pryor returning kicks? No. Of course not. So don't tell me about Josh Cribbs or Brad Smith or Brian Mitchell and expect me to back down on Terrelle Pryor.

Don't tell me about Hines Ward (Georgia), either. He's a great NFL receiver, a Hall of Famer probably, but he didn't convert from college quarterback. He played that position at Georgia, yes, but he played quarterback only briefly. He also was a college running back but mainly he played receiver -- and finished his career ranked second on the Bulldogs' all-time list for receptions.

Similarly, don't tell me about Patrick Crayton (Northwestern Oklahoma State) or Drew Bennett (UCLA), both of whom spent multiple years in college at receiver. Those guys, like Ward and Cribbs and Mitchell, are apples.

And Terrelle Pryor is an orange.

But it has been fashionable in recent weeks to say Pryor should convert to receiver, or convert to tight end, or convert to any position but the one he is trained and built for and dying to play. It's nonsense, and not because Pryor will be a great NFL quarterback or even a good one. I'm not here to tell you he'll succeed at quarterback. Pryor strikes me as another Vince Young or Tim Tebow, and we all see what kind of success Vince Young and Tebow have had, so far, as NFL quarterbacks.

But all this talk about a new position for Pryor -- just as there was talk about a new position for Tebow, talk I embraced myself on radio shows before the 2010 draft -- is naïve, simplistic, maybe even stupid. From the looks of things, I just called myself naïve, simplistic and maybe even stupid, but you know what? I deserve it for thinking two years ago that Tebow ought to change positions to H-back if he wanted to make it in the NFL.

That was wrong, and again, not because Tebow looks like a good NFL quarterback. He doesn't, at least not yet, but at least he's playing the position he knows -- and wants -- to play. The second half of that, wants to play, can't be stressed enough. The only way a college quarterback can make the switch to another position is if he embraces it, and not like Terrelle Pryor is embracing it when he says "it's a dream of mine to play quarterback here" in the NFL, but fine, if someone forces him to switch positions, he'll do it.

Good attitude? Sure, if this was Pop Warner football. But it's not. This is the NFL, where great, trained and motivated athletes get released every day. Pryor is a great athlete, yes, but he's not trained to play anything but quarterback -- and he doesn't sound all that motivated to make it happen. The two ex-quarterbacks I mentioned earlier as exceptions to the rule of switching positions, Ronald Curry and Antwaan Randle El? They came out of college knowing they'd switch positions. Wanting to switch positions. Ready to make it work. And so they did.

These other guys? Marcus Vick and Eric Crouch and Rasheed Marshall and Jammal Lord? They were dragged out from under center, and they never made it anywhere else. Because it's just not that simple.

Terrelle Pryor has no idea how to run routes, and none of us has any idea if he can catch. I mean, we saw him make this catch against Texas in the 2009 Fiesta Bowl, but it was just one catch. And it was a short lob over a short defensive back who made no play on the ball. Can Pryor catch a sizzling sideline pass from one of the howitzer-arms playing quarterback in the NFL? Can he run over the middle and make a catch in traffic? I'm sure he could if he was making this switch in high school. Maybe he could if it was college. But this isn't intramurals, brother. This is the NFL.

I'm not saying it's impossible, OK? You're not reading that it can't happen for Terrelle Pryor. What you're reading is this: Terrelle Pryor's best chance to make it in the NFL is to use his quarterback's body, quarterback's training and quarterback's mindset to play ... pause for dramatic effect ... quarterback.

Gregg Doyel is a columnist for He covered the ACC for the Charlotte Observer, the Marlins for the Miami Herald, and Brooksville (Fla.) Hernando for the Tampa Tribune. He was 4-0 (3 KO's!) as an amateur boxer, and volunteers for the ALS Association. Follow Gregg Doyel on Twitter.

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