The Terrelle Pryor in the NFL Debate… Size Isn’t Everything

June 14, 2011

Read the opposing argument from Babe Ruthless.

On February 6th, 2008, every high school football senior in the country with hopes of playing at the next level had to make a decision. It was National Signing Day, where those recruits commit to the college program they wish to be a part of.

Every recruit, that is, except one.

A quarterback out of Jeannette, PA, by the name of Terrelle Pryor thought he was special, and that the rules of everyone else didn’t apply to him. And so, while everyone else was announcing their intentions for the fall, Pryor decided that he would not make his announcement until more than a month later, on March 19th.

We should have seen it coming then.

Terrelle Pryor has fallen right in line with many other phenom talents who are targeted at a too-early age as the next great athletic superstar. Throughout their formative years, when most kids are learning very important life lessons about maturity, responsibility, and accountability, these teenage “superstars” are instead being told they are ‘special’. Exceptions and excuses are made on their behalf for their mistakes, and before you know it, they are shut off from the rest of the world, living within the bubble of “I am better than everyone else.”

Think about the recent antics of other children (which is exactly what they are) who were thrust far too soon into the limelight that is sports stardom – LeBron James and Bryce Harper quickly come to mind. All of these amazingly talented athletes may be physically prepared for the rigors of top-tier athletic competition, but none have shown the maturity necessary to cope with those rigors, and none have demonstrated an ounce of consideration for anyone around them, DESPITE the fact that they all play TEAM SPORTS.

Still, we hope with each new kid brought to us by ESPNU or Rivals.com as the ‘next great thing’ that THEY will be different. We continue to blindly believe the myth that age naturally brings wisdom and maturity, when so many before them prove time and again that is just not the case in sports. We believe that a kid who hasn’t even gone to prom yet can manage a multi-million dollar lifestyle, when most adults aren’t capable of it.

And with every new revelation made about the misdeeds of Pryor and his cohorts while at The Ohio State University, it becomes more evident that he has continued to behave as though the rules just did not apply to him. HE was the superstar, and everyone else should be grateful that HE is a part of their system.

So it came as a surprise to no one when he once more ducked out on accountability and consequence by running away from the NCAA.

Once again, while his so-called ‘team’ will be suffering the wrath of the NCAA, Pryor gets to just walk away, untouched by sanctions that will largely (if not entirely) be levied specifically because of his actions.

Terrelle Pryor is special, and the rules don’t apply to him.

Does that sound like someone an NFL General Manager, Head Coach, or FAN would want on their organization?

Character issues to the side now (which are more than enough to turn any NFL GM off to the prospect of Pryor as a member of their organization), there are plenty of reasons from a performance standpoint that would ALSO be reason to look the other way when Pryor and new agent Drew Rosenhaus come knocking at your team’s door.

Yes, Terrelle Pryor is a physically gifted athlete. He undeniably has the build required to play in the NFL, and is an all-around athlete. His combination of size and speed are what got him noticed in high school, and what led the Buckeyes to an amazing 33-6 record during his three-year tenure with the program.

But for Pryor, the REAL story is not in the wins, but in the losses. His poor decision making ability in many of those games led to very costly turnovers, some of which decided the outcome of games.

When Pryor is leading a juggernaut team against the bottom-feeders of the NCAA, it is easy for him to look good. The talent of the team around him, and the support of a stifling defense that was the hallmark of Ohio State football under Jim Tressel, all compensated for Pryor’s inability to make good decisions.

He extends plays far too long, creating opportunities for the defense to force turnovers, and he forces passes into areas that should not be tested. That is why his ratio of barely more than two TD passes for every interception pales in comparison to TRULY successful quarterbacks of recent years such as Cam Newton (4.3 TDs to every INT), Sam Bradford (5.5 TDs per INT), or even fellow Buckeye Troy Smith (4.2 TDs per INT).

With very few exceptions, any time that Terrelle Pryor found himself in a pressure situation with the game resting on his shoulders, he failed to deliver. Instead, he USUALLY committed a costly mistake which actually hurt his team more than if he had done nothing at all.

And to top it all off, the projection for his pro potential is not even at the position he played in college. You see, everyone knows that he can’t hack it as an NFL QB, so they are instead HOPING that his size, speed, and strength will make him a successful weapon somewhere (anywhere) on the field.

So if I were General Manager of an NFL franchise, and was presented at the supplemental draft with the opportunity to draft a low-character, poor decision making, selfish, prima donna attention-seeker who will have to learn an entirely new position because everyone already knows he cannot be successfull at the only position he has experience in, my answer is a resounding ‘NO THANK YOU!’

The best thing for Pryor AND for the NFL would be for him to spend a few years in either the CFL or the UFL, developing some strong character traits, and proving to the world that he is more than just hype and bad publicity.

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The Terrelle Pryor in the NFL Debate… Yes, There Is Life After College Football

June 14, 2011

Read the opposing argument from Bleacher Fan.

Life gave Terrelle Pryor lemons, and earlier this week he started making lemonade.

Well maybe that’s not entirely accurate. Perhaps it could be better stated that, life blessed Terrelle Pryor with incredible athletic gifts and placed him in an extremely enviable position to showcase those talents, and then his greed and ego caused the downfall of his career, his coach’s job, and his college football team’s chances for the immediate future….but really isn’t it just a matter of semantics?

In spite of his marred reputation and indiscretions, Terrelle Pryor has a lot of upside left to his football career and now he’s trying to start fresh in the NFL. He is off to a great start by signing the best agent in sports, Drew Rosenhaus . Seriously, I mean that. Rosenhaus could sell crazy pills to Gary Busey. But I digress.

So now, armed with the apex predator of all agents and a new penitent attitude, Pryor throws his hat in the ring for the NFL supplemental draft. Today’s debate examines the question, does Pryor warrant a shot of making an NFL teams roster following selection in the supplemental draft?

The answer is a resounding YES! Terrelle Pryor is an obvious talent, maybe not a prototypical NFL quarterback, but a football talent none the less. There is hardly a debate on this issue at all.

If this debate was about whether teams should build a franchise around Pryor, then I would admit that would be some obvious concerns for NFL General Managers to consider. And again, if this debate was about whether teams should spend a first round pick in the supplemental draft on him, I would acknowledge the fact that there are just too many questions for this to be a no brainer. BUT, neither of those are the issues Bleacher Fan and I are asked to tackle. We simply have to decide whether Terrelle Pryor, a stand out QB from the ultra competitive Big Ten, deserves a potentially mid to late round draft pick to then compete for a spot on the team roster. I simply cannot see any justification for teams to overlook him in such a low risk high reward scenario.

First of all, Terrelle Pryor is not a seriously bad guy. He didn’t shoot himself in the leg at a strip club like Plaxico Burress. He didn’t fight and kill dogs for pleasure like Michael Vick. He didn’t allegedly sexually assault multiple women like Ben Roethlisberger. No, Pryor did what more modern athletes than we’d probably care to admit do year after year. He took benefits that an amateur athlete cannot receive. We saw this play out on a much higher profile scenario with Reggie Bush last year which ended up costing him the most noteworthy of his amateur accolades, the Heisman Trophy. It was a black eye for Bush and his former college the University of Southern California but not so much for his pro team the New Orleans Saints. Sure the scandal was a distraction but it didn’t really seem to impact the day to day success of Saints football. Pryor is sure to carry some distraction and baggage to any team that signs, but it will be more of a hiccup in his integration to the pro game than a barrier to playing winning football. So while Pryor may not bring the drama and problems of a Vick or Roethlisberger he may bring some of their talent and athleticism.

Secondly, what do teams have to lose at this point? The supplemental draft works similarly to a silent auction that allows teams to declare what round they would be willing to take Pryor, and then surrender a pick in the following year’s draft if they have the highest bid. This means that any team could take a flyer on him with a seventh round bid. While I feel certain that won’t win him, it does mean that any team in the league could snatch a mobile quarterback to come in and fight for a roster spot. There are plenty of teams that still have holes at the QB position and many more that could stand to bolster their bench with proficient signal caller with the skills of Pryor.

This whole debate centers on the question of whether teams should take Pryor, but it is really a given that they will. The debate should really have been about determining the round he WILL be drafted. Drew Rosenhaus is prognosticating that his latest client will go in the first round. While I believe this is more posturing and price inflation than true projection, I would not rule it out that he will go for a pick in the top half of the draft.

Solving the QB concerns was an issue for many teams in the 2011 NFL Draft. Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert, Jake Locker, and Christian Ponder were all taken in the 1st round. While Pryor’s name certainly rivals one or two of these quarterbacks, the point here is that he doesn’t even have to. Pryor simply needs to demand enough attention to demand one draft pick from one team for me to win this debate, and I believe that is a given. The Texans, Jets, Ravens, Bears, and Chiefs all used late round picks trying to better their QB situation. It would be crazy to believe these are the only teams than need to strengthen their passing game, and it would be even more ludicrous to believe that all NFL teams are satisfied with the rosters.

I feel certain that Bleacher Fan will rattle off a laundry list of character defects and skill deficiencies that would cause teams to doubt Pryor’s effectiveness as a pro QB, but all draftees face similar second-guessing and scrutiny. If that was really enough to deter NFL GMs, Cam Newton would not have been the overall first pick in the draft.

Pryor may not pan out to be a star, but he certainly deserves a chance to prove he can be one.

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