There are many off-season story lines captivating the minds of dynasty owners all over the world this month. One of those revolves around the future of Terrelle Pryor, who by all accounts will get a chance to earn the starting quarterback job for the Raiders in the coming months. The big question in fantasyland is if we should even care.
Let’s explore further.
Pryor’s path to the NFL ended up being much different than he could have possibly imagined. As a High School player in Pennsylvania, he was one of the most heavily recruited two sport athletes in history. In fact, he once committed to play basketball in his home State for Jamie Dixon at the University of Pittsburgh before changing his mind as a Senior. After a storied High School basketball and football career, Pryor finally made up his mind to focus on football instead of basketball and eventually signed on to play at Ohio State, disappointing fans from Oregon, Michigan and Penn State, who were also on his short list of teams he was considering.
As a Freshman quarterback, Pryor didn’t disappoint the Buckeye nation as he won the Big Ten’s Freshman of the Year award by leading them to an 8-1 record in his nine starts. He threw for 1,311 yards and 12 touchdowns, while also adding 631 rushing yards and six more touchdowns on the ground that season. The future was bright for Pryor and much was expected of him in the coming years.
Unfortunately for Pryor, he never really became the player many thought he would. He experienced lots of ups and downs during his tenure at Ohio State and ended his career with 6,177 passing yards with 57 touchdown passes and 26 interceptions. When you throw in his 2,164 rushing yards and 17 more rushing scores, his stat sheet looks pretty good, especially when you consider his passing statistics improved every year. The highlight of his career had to be the 2010 Rose Bowl where he threw for 266 yards, ran for 72 more and accounted for three touchdowns. His Junior year was also solid, but not necessarily spectacular, though he did lead the Buckeyes to a 12-1 record and a Sugar Bowl win over Arkansas.
The real story begins after that year.
In December of 2010, the NCAA ruled Pryor and four of his teammates would be suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season as a sanction for selling memorabilia. The investigation eventually destroyed the Coaching career of Jim Tressel, who resigned after it was discovered he lied about knowing information about numerous improper benefits given to his players. The investigation turned quite ugly as many Ohio State players were put under the microscope for nearly 50 different suspicious vehicle purchases from a local car dealership. Pryor himself was accused of driving nearly ten different cars during his career and also making thousands of dollars off selling his own memorabilia. The investigation has thrown further fuel on the debate whether athletes should get compensation for playing college football.
Rather than sit out his suspension, Pryor left the school about a week after Tressel resigned and was subsequently banned from all contact with the athletic program and any incoming recruits. The University had to pay for his (and his teammates) actions by incurring a bowl ban, which ended up being significant this year as they went undefeated in Urban Meyer’s first season at the helm, yet had no chance to earn the millions of dollars that would have come with a BCS berth.
Pryor entered the NFL’s supplemental draft in 2011 and was taken in the third round by the Oakland Raiders. He proved to be an athletic prospect Al Davis couldn’t pass on. Sadly, that was the last pick Davis would ever make. The Raiders were adamant they’d keep Pryor at his native quarterback position, even though many teams saw him as a tight end. Regardless, Pryor has some amazing athletic ability as he can run a sub 4.4 forty (some have clocked him as fast as 4.33, but that’s arguable). At 6’4″ and 233 pounds, any kind of speed in that ballpark is pretty impressive.
For the most part, Pryor has done nothing but learn in the NFL thus far. In fact, the league took an unprecedented step by imposing his five game suspension as a means to avoid him getting away from Ohio State without facing any consequences for his actions – that pretty much wiped out his rookie season. He played in three total games last year, including starting the season finale against San Diego where he went 13-for-28 for 150 yards, throwing for two touchdowns and one interception. He also added 49 rushing yards and another score in the 24-21 Raiders loss that afternoon. All in all, it was a pretty impressive performance from someone with so little experience.
Now comes the fun part.
The future of Pryor in dynasty leagues is murky at best. The Raiders have expressed a desire to have him battle Carson Palmer for the starting job. It’s also quite possible Oakland brings in another free agent like Alex Smith this off-season. Regardless, we know Palmer isn’t the future for the Raiders. It’s also safe to say that future won’t be anywhere near the hands of Matt Leinart, either. See, the Raiders have something working for them, right?
On the plus side, Pryor does have incredible athletic ability. This is a man who is big, strong and fast. He’s used to the spotlight and the NFL stage likely wouldn’t be too much for him to handle. He can take any broken play and turn it into a positive one with his arm or his legs. In an era of dual threat quarterbacks, Pryor fits the bill, especially since he’s much bigger than other quarterbacks and possibly less susceptible to injuries.
On the negative front, he is extremely raw. Accuracy has never been Pryor’s calling card and that’s a serious red flag for any quarterback in the league. While not Tebow-esque in his passing ability, he needs a lot of help before being counted on as a pocket passer. In fact, there are serious doubts he can ever really transform into one, thus fueling so much speculation he’s going to end up eventually being a tight end.
In the end, Pryor looks to be getting his shot. However, it would take a really deep dynasty roster to justify having him at the moment. Pryor is incredibly raw and the Raiders have a lot of work to do before becoming a contender. In fact, many pundits predict they’ll finish last in the league this year, thus putting themselves in the running to take a quarterback in the 2014 NFL Draft, which will undoubtedly have a stronger crop of signal callers than this year’s class.
If you’re the gambling type and are looking for a true lottery ticket at the position, Pryor is worth plucking off waivers. However, I wouldn’t be putting too many trade packages together or dropping many young prospects with upside in order to sell out to get him. The chances he turns out to be a good NFL quarterback or more importantly, a good fantasy quarterback, seem to be pretty slim.
What do you think about Pryor? Post your thoughts below…