Wednesday, June 29, 2011

IF NEWTON IS VIEWED AS AN NFL QUARTERBACK, WHY NOT PRYOR?

Terrelle Pryor
TBT/Darla Dunkle-Hudnell
As Terrelle Pryor prepares for the NFL Supplemental Draft — which should take place sometime in July — many are questioning whether he has the abilities to be a quarterback at the professional level.

My answer to that is pretty simple ... if Cam Newton, who went No. 1 overall to Carolina in April's draft, is viewed as a sure-fire NFL quarterback, I don't see why the former Ohio State signal caller can't be seen as such.

A prototypical NFL quarterback is a player who possesses great size, a strong arm, accuracy, good mobility, and most importantly, can lead a team to victories.

Pryor is 6-foot-5, 240 pounds, has ideal NFL arm strength, completed over 65 percent of his passes as a junior, runs 40 yards in about 4.4 seconds, and is a proven winner at the collegiate level, going 31-4 as a starter at Ohio State — including 2-0 in BCS bowls, where he won Most Valuable Player honors in both games.

He threw for 6,177 yards in his career at Ohio State and 57 touchdowns (T-1st in school history), and added an all-time OSU record for quarterbacks with 2,164 yards rushing and 17 scores. And did it while facing more pressure to succeed than perhaps any quarterback in the history of college football.

And yet, according to the ESPN draftniks, Newton is a prototype ... and Pryor is a wide receiver/H-back in the making.

I'll call B.S.

In fact, I'll go as far as to say that Pryor's more NFL-ready than Newton is coming out of Auburn.

Pryor is more experienced under center at the collegiate level, playing in 39 FBS games (35 as a starter) to Newton's 20 (14 as a starter). He also ran a legitimate offense at Ohio State — unlike Newton — where he was required to read and anticipate opposing defenses, call audibles, and actually learn a playbook which was far more complex than a coach holding up numbers on a poster board.

Yes, Pryor did receive improper benefits at Ohio State, which forced his departure out of Columbus. However, his actions still pale in comparison to Newton's, who stole a laptop at the University of Florida and also sat idly by while his father offered his services to other FBS colleges for cash after being booted out of Gainesville for the theft.

Pryor made mistakes and has fully admitted to them. Newton has denied any knowledge of his father's wrongdoings.

By the way, accountability is another good trait of a quarterback.

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco has worked out with Pryor recently and has insisted that he's got the goods to make it in the NFL.

"I understand the whole hoopla, you know, OK, he messed up," Ochocinco told ESPN Radio 1000 in Chicago. "(Pryor's) arm strength and timing was unbelievable. I don't care what ESPN said, I don't care what they report, I saw with my own eyes. I've seen every NFL quarterback play. Dude, it was unbelievable."

Ok, I know using Ochocinco for expert analysis is kind of like having Michael Vick as your character witness, but he makes an outstanding point with the following statement ...

"With the right coaching, he can become a great NFL quarterback because he has all the tools," Ochocinco said. "He has all the tools that scouts look for in a quarterback."

Unlike with Newton, who will be looked at as a savior in Carolina and will demand a King's ransom, Pryor will come at a relatively cheap price with very little risk for whichever team selects him. He will have time to develop his craft, and if used correctly, could even offer some immediate benefits in "Wildcat" and "Goal line" packages.

"He is a freak of nature," former Super Bowl winning coach Jon Gruden said of Pryor, while speaking at Jim Tressel's coaching clinic in Columbus. "He is really something with the ball in his hands. You can run the read-option, you can put in a pro-style passing attack with him."

As Ochocinco stated, Pryor has to have the "right coaching" to succeed.

He also has to be in the right situation.

Perhaps Cleveland could be a fit?

Browns head coach Pat Shurmur has a admirable record coaching passers, helping develop Donovan McNabb in Philadelphia and Sam Bradford in St. Louis. Pryor could also have the best quarterback mind in the business at his disposal in Mike Holmgren, the Browns' team president. Two minds like that working on Pryor could be just what the doctor ordered for the former Buckeye star.

Add in the fact that the Browns already have a young starting signal caller in Colt McCoy, and a seasoned veteran in Seneca Wallace as the No. 2, Pryor could come in as the third quarterback for Cleveland, giving him plenty of time to develop his game under the expert tutelage of Shurmur and Holmgren.

He would also be effective in those "Wildcat" and "Goal line" packages the moment he stepped foot in Cleveland. Imagine Pryor in the gun with Peyton Hillis and Owen Marecic paving the way on a 1-yard touchdown plunge, or picking up a first down on fourth-and-short.

Teams can be creative with Pryor while developing his skills as a quarterback. Carolina won't have that same luxury with Newton.

Sure, many NFL scouts are questioning Pryor's abilities as a passer.

But then again, these are the same scouts who hailed Ryan Leaf, JaMarcus Russell and Matt Leinart as stars, while allowing guys like Tom Brady, Joe Montana and Kurt Warner to fall by the wayside.

No matter what transpires in next month's supplemental draft, there is no reason to think that Pryor can't become an NFL quarterback. Especially if the right guys get a hold of him.

Again, if Newton is regarded enough as a signal caller to be the first overall pick in the NFL draft, Pryor should at least command a fourth or fifth round supplemental pick ... as a quarterback.