Terrelle Pryor, widely considered a top five football recruit from Jeannette Pennsylvania, began his collegiate football career in 2008 as a promising freshman at Ohio State University. Pryor got his first career start against Troy, throwing for an Ohio State freshman record four touchdowns.
Pryor’s most impressive season came in his junior year as a Buckeye. He completed 210 out of his 323 passing attempts for 2,772 yards, 27 Touchdowns and 11 interceptions. In addition, he also had 754 yards, and 4 touchdowns rushing.
On December, 23rd 2010, it was discovered that Pryor had accepted improper benefits. This revelation led to the NCAA investigation of OSU athletics which culminated in the resignation of Head Coach Jim Tressel. Pryor would subsequently apply for the NFL Supplemental Draft, substantiating his cause by stating that he would not have been allowed to play for the Buckeyes in 2011.
Size: At 6’6, 233 pounds, Pryor has better than prototypical size at the quarterback position. His height allows him to see the field without much obstruction, and increases his ability to find throwing lanes with regularity. Pryor’s weight will enable him to absorb some of the pounding he will take at the next level. Once DEs and LBs get a hand on Pryor in the backfield, he has proven to be very difficult to bring down due to his size; much like Ben Rothlisberger.
Arm Strength: Pryor has all the arm strength necessary to make every NFL throw. Pryor also has more than enough arm strength to hit his receivers in stride 50 yards or more down the field without putting a tremendous amount of air under the football. He has also displayed the ability to connect on the 15 yard out.
Accuracy: Though Pryor has all the arm strength necessary to play at the next level, accuracy could very well be his downfall. Pryor has very good timing with his receivers on the deep ball, consistently delivering the ball to his receivers in stride. Unfortunately, the deep ball is the most impressive throw Pryor has in his arsenal at this point in his young career. Due to his poor mechanics, Pryor struggles with the stick throws seemingly throwing the football with very little, to no anticipation at all. Pryor also has a propensity to throw high once his receivers turn around to sit in the holes of zone defenses. His lack of consistency with his footwork leads to some of those high throws, resulting in incomplete passes, as well as his receiver’s inability to maximize yardage after the catch. Pryor often gets away with this as a college QB; however he will not get away with this in the NFL. If he does not improve upon his accuracy, a lot of those overthrown balls will become interceptions at the next level. While Pryor might have achieved a solid completion rate of 65% last season, it could’ve been a lot worse. Let’s be mindful of the fact that Pryor is surrounded by a group of very sure handed receivers who really know how to adjust to the football, making some spectacular grabs for him over the course of the year.
Mechanical: When Pryor is referred to as an unfinished product, raw or a project, his mechanics are essentially the derivation for the aforementioned descriptions. Pryor’s feet are very inactive in his drops and only begin to hasten if he is being pressured. When pressured, Pryor becomes very frenetic in the pocket and he does not keep his eyes down field while buying time with his legs to find open receivers. Pryor, naturally a long strider, fails to follow through with his throws, unnecessarily throwing off of his back foot. Throwing off of his back foot resulted in some throws getting away from him and sailing over the head of his intended target.
Once Pryor sets his back foot, he has a tendency to sink his hips (especially on the deep ball), making him significantly shorter in the pocket than his actual height of 6’6. Because his release point is much lower than his height would suggest, Pryor is susceptible to his passes being batted down. He does not throw a pretty football as he does not follow through on his throws. The fact that he does not follow through results in the ball looking more like a knuckleball compared to a spiral. Pryor also has a bit of a windup which has an adverse affect on the speed of his release.
With all of these flaws in his mechanics, Pryor has escaped relatively unscathed at the collegiate level. I’m curious to see how motivated Pryor will be to change his mechanics if it’s been working for him thus far? If Pryor does not improve upon his mechanics, he will indeed be subjected to a position change at the next level.
Mobility: Pryor has been one of the more mobile QBs in college football the past 3 years. Pryor does not have much wiggle to his game; however it has no barring on the impact of his ability to run the football. What he lacks in his ability to make defenders miss, particularly at the 2nd level, he more than makes up for it with his outstanding stiff arm and sheer strength. I’m not a believer in the 4.3 40 yard time Pryor recorded over the summer, however I have no doubt that Pryor runs a 4.4 in the 40 at the very least. When scrambling, Pryor often times frustrated me as it seemed to take him a while to build up speed when initially deciding to leave the pocket. Though Pryor’s top end speed is impressive, he tends to strain a lot to run once in the open field as his form appears to breakdown considerably. I only wish Pryor were more sudden when initially looking to leave the pocket.
Pre/Post snap reads: We get it; college coaches are not responsible for getting a QB ready for the next level, they’re responsible for getting their programs wins. With that being said, Pryor will be significantly behind the curve as he has almost no experience checking in and out of plays. OSU’s plays are called from the sideline through a series of hand gestures from the offensive coordinator. Hand signals indicate tempo, formation as well as routes and protections for the offensive linemen. Routes will change dependent upon whether secondary is in Cover 1 or a Cover 2 shell.
Pryor also was only asked to read just one side of the field during his time at OSU which is typical of many spread offenses featuring mobile Quarterbacks. Any team that is thinking of acquiring Pryor would be best served allowing him to sit and learn for a year or two before being considered for any quality snaps under center.
Intangibles: Due to his passion and zeal for the game, Pryor struggled in this particular area especially early in his career. Often times, Pryor’s emotions would get the best of him as he could be seen yelling and screaming at his receivers during timeouts. Once he began to display a calmer demeanor, his team began to win the big games against teams like Oregon and Arkansas. While I don’t believe his focus intensifies during big moments in a game, I don’t believe the pressure rattles him much either. In my estimation, Pryor has grown as a leader for the Buckeyes. Should he display the same attitude on the field he did toward the tail end of his career at OSU, he’ll be well received in any NFL locker room.
Character: While we don’t know the specifics of all of Pryor’s transgressions at OSU, we do know that he did receive improper benefits. As a college athlete, you are put through a number of compliance courses and tested on all material covered in each course so that you are aware of all possible NCAA infractions. Integrity is essentially knowing the difference between right and wrong and choosing the right thing to do. Pryor chose not to do the right thing and subsequently lost his senior season of eligibility. With that said we’re talking about a 22 year old kid who made a mistake and paid for it dearly. I’m glad to know the NFL definitely gives second chances, and if Pryor has changed his behavior, he is certainly deserving of a second chance.
Pryor is a prospect with a long way to go in order to play QB effectively in the NFL. He’s a bit of a project, but if he’s placed in the proper environment conducive to learning, he could flourish. Any team with a solid veteran with a need for a young QB they feel they can groom at the position should absolutely take a “flier on Pryor”. If he is forthcoming and genuinely contrite in team interviews, I would not select Pryor a moment sooner than round 4. However, I believe someone will jump the gun and select Pryor in the 3rd round of the 2012 NFL Supplemental draft.