Terrelle Pryor: Quarterback or Wide Receiver


August 25, 2011

Terrelle Pryor has been recently acquired by the Oakland Raiders in the National Football League supplemental draft. He has been one of the most controversial figures in sports over the last year because of numerous violations of NCAA rules over his tenure at Ohio State. His decisions in college have directly affected his former school and his draft status this summer. Pryor desires to be utilized by his new franchise solely as a quarterback, but his college career at quarterback were mercurial at best. He will play professional football in the NFL this upcoming season, but should he be a quarterback or a wide receiver?

Accuracy defines the position of quarterback, and Terrelle Pryor is definitely not the model of consistency in that category. Though he completes 65% of his passes, he was wildly inconsistent over the course of his college career and only slightly more consistent in his last year at Ohio State despite passing to the best athletes in the Big Ten. His throwing motion is classic with a high release, but he lacks the finer points of delivering the football on target. His footwork is undisciplined and therefore his passing is inconsistent. He seldom uses the bottom half of his body effectively to get more torque and accuracy on his passes, so they dive and float erratically on some of the tougher passes. Undisciplined mistakes like failing to set his feet usually cost Ohio State downs, but in the pros the same mistakes will cost possessions. In the NFL, differences of inches decide whether a pass is a completion for a touchdown or an interception for the other team. And, accuracy is seldom improved drastically in the pros. Scouts and coaches alike generally say that either a player has it, or he does not. Unfortunately, Pryor does not seem to have great accuracy.

Leadership is nearly as important as accuracy, and Terrelle Pryor has shown poor character and decision-making on and off the field. He sold effects from Bowl game wins to pay for the numerous tattoos that now adorn his body which is a rules violation. He was seen on campus with as many as eight different cars over his tenure at Ohio State including one new car after all the allegations that NCAA rules infractions had been committed by him and his teammates. Terrelle Pryor has made his share of poor decisions when he was not playing football. However, to say that quarterbacks have to make good decisions in their personal life to be good leaders in the game is preposterous. Ben Roethlisberger has notoriously made horrible decisions off the football field and has won two Super Bowls. He is a fearless leader in the pocket and sometimes wills his team to victory. The problem for Pryor is that he does not inspire teammates on the field or direct them off of it. Athletes are forgiven when they perform well on the field despite making poor decisions in their personal lives, but despite good numbers including a 32-4 record in college, Pryor’s phenomenal talent has produced mixed results in college. He never seems to make the big play, and the national championship has eluded him. He played in a football conference, and was always a good competitor, but he never did dominate. When he sees the speed and athleticism of the NFL, he may not be able mature quickly enough to be a good NFL quarterback. Pryor seems to have issues in his personal life and in football.

Great natural ability is the only tangible ability that Pryor brings to the table in the league. If he is able to harness his footwork, work on his timing, and is able to deliver the football, then he could be special as a NFL quarterback. His speed which ranges from 4.38 to 4.54 in the forty yard dash places him in elite company even in the NFL. He is fast and elusive in the open field much like Vince Young, another physically gifted QB. He also has a strong arm. No one has ever questioned Pryor’s physical tools. It is his psychological make-up that scared the other general managers away from taking him before the 3rd round of the supplemental draft. Pryor seems to be self-involved and oblivious to his situation and how he ended up in it. Wide receivers are notoriously self-absorbed and egotistical. In order to be a great wide out, they have to be into themselves. Their ego helps them through the intense training that is necessary to maintain speed, and it forces them to believe that they can not be stopped by any defender. The best receivers think that they are open on every play. Pryor has more than enough ego to believe that he is completely unstoppable and has the size and speed to compete for any pass thrown to him. The average cornerback in the NFL is 5’10. Pryor is 7 inches taller than that. And, his athleticism will be far more formidable in the open field than in the pocket. With 4.38 speed, Pryor would be one of the faster wide receivers in the NFL, and he could still play a little quarterback in Wildcat sets or on option plays. Terrelle Pryor’s natural gifts and mindset are more acclimated to playing wide receiver.

Terrelle Pryor possesses some of the most desired athletic ability for a NFL quarterback. He also suffers from quite a few deficiencies at the position. He has a huge arm and a classic overhand delivery of the football, but he suffers with some inaccuracy on tough throws and makes bad decisions when pressured. At 6’6”, he has a big frame and the type of fleetness of foot that is only comparable to the speed of Michael Vick, who is one of the fastest players in the league. He could play quarterback in the league. However, he regularly fails to use his talent at the proper time in that position. Quarterback is the most important position on the football field, and Pryor has too many flaws to allow him to play it. Terrelle Pryor should become a wide receiver in the NFL.


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