While we are all focused on Brandin Cooks and Alshon Jeffery right now, and rightfully so, I wanted to take a quick look at a potential #1 wide receiver who hasn't gotten as much attention. As most NFL fans know, Terrelle Pryor started his NFL career as a quarterback with the Raiders and even started 9 games in the 2013 season there before washing out of the league and impressively reinventing his career with a position change to wide receiver.
Pryor certainly looks the part of a top receiver standing somewhere between 6’-4” and 6’-6” depending on which source you're looking at and somewhere around 230 lbs. He ran a 4.38 40 at his pro day before the 2011 NFL Draft so he is clearly a special athlete, but playing wide receiver is about a lot more than being big and fast as countless Ruston Webster draft picks can attest to.
- Age: 27 (will turn 28 on 6/20/2017)
- Height: 6’-4”
- Weight: 223 lbs
- College: Ohio State
- Experience: 4 years
Drafted in the 3rd round of the 2011 NFL Supplemental Draft by the Raiders
Terrelle Pryor Career Stats.csv
As mentioned above, Pryor came in to the league as a quarterback after playing there in high school and college. After coming to Ohio State as the top high school recruit in the country, his college career ended on a sour note as he was at the center of the free tattoo scandal that ended up costing Jim Tressel his job. Pryor ended up entering the supplemental draft and was picked up in the 3rd round by the Raiders. He spent his first two seasons mostly as a backup behind Carson Palmer.
In 2013 after Carson Palmer left for Arizona, Pryor won the starting quarterback job for the Raiders out of camp and started the first 9 games of the year. His performance started to dip towards the end of that run and after he sprained his MCL in the 9th game he was left on the bench for the rest of the year.
The Raiders traded Pryor to the Seahawks for a 7th round pick in the offseason before the 2014 season, but he was a camp cut. After working out for several teams without getting a contract, he ended up sitting out the season.
The Chiefs then signed Pryor to a one year deal shortly after the 2014 season, but ended up cutting him in May. He then spent a month with the Bengals before getting cut again. It was at this time that Pryor decided to announce that he was switching to wide receiver. The Browns quickly signed him, but he was waived before the season started and ended up sitting out most of the year again, but a late season Josh McCown injury opened up a roster spot and the Browns brought Pryor back in to be a wide receiver and emergency quarterback. He got his first start at wide receiver in the Browns’ Week 16 game against Pittsburgh and had 1 catch for 42 yards.
2016 was Pryor’s breakout year. He was a starter for all 16 games and finished the season with 77 catches for 1,007 yards and 4 touchdowns despite catching passes from a rotating door of terrible quarterbacks including Robert Griffin, Cody Kessler, Josh McCown, Kevin Hogan, and, of course, Touchdown Jesus himself Charlie Whitehurst.
How Pryor Fits the Titans
Pryor would offer the Titans a physically dominant receiver with size, speed, strength, and ability to run after the catch. The downside is that Pryor only has 1 season of experience at a position and that year came on a 1-15 Browns team. If you want to spin that positively you can though. A Pryor optimist would say that he already posted a 1,000 yard season despite having almost no experience playing there and with his physical skills he has no ceiling as a player. He's still just 27 and he is the only receiver in the NFL today who has the Julio Jones package of size, strength, and speed.
There are some off the field concerns with Pryor, but it's hard to put a finger on exactly what they are. I don't think anyone here is worried about the free tattoo situation from his college days, but for some reason he has made a lot of enemies in NFL locker rooms (both opposing and his own). Opposing players not liking a guy isn't much of a red flag to me, but the friendly fire on Pryor from former teammates has been a little concerning. Former Browns wide receiver Brian Hartline had a particularly harsh review of his time with Pryor:
>“If I’m building a team, what is [Pryor]?” Hartline said, via Ohio.com. “Is he my No. 1? God, I hope not because let’s put it this way: For me, I want a guy day in and day out I know what I’m getting. You don’t know what you’re going to get. You don’t know who’s going to show up. You don’t know if he’s going to get in trouble. You don’t know if he’s going to smart off. I need stability. That’s so more important to me. I need a guy that runs routes. I need stability. I need constant production. Is he a No. 2? OK, yeah. I mean maybe. He kind of disappeared the last couple weeks. So I’m very apprehensive as a Cleveland Browns guy to give out a contract. Listen, you had one year. You’re a flash in the pan. You’re trying to tell me with a guy that had suspect personality characteristics, I’m going to go ahead and hand you a bunch of money but you’re going to work harder? Uh, I think I’m going to bet against that if I’m a betting man.”<
His former teammate Alex Boone put it more bluntly saying “I hated everything about him.” Yes, that could be a couple guys who are jealous of Pryor’s natural abilities and are lashing out, but this kind of tdashing of former teammates openly in the media doesn’t happen that often in the NFL so it makes me wonder if there is a problem there.
On the field Pryor is capable of dominating physically as we learned when the Browns visited Nissan Stadium last season. Pryor made several incredible catches in that game but this is the best one. He is bracketed by Rashad Johnson and Brice McCain on this play. He is absolutely not open, but Kessler threw it up and Pryor went and made a great play to high point the ball in the back of the end zone.
Here is another example of Pryor being able to make a catch even when he's not open. This is just a simple back shoulder throw but it is beautifully executed and shows off Pryor’s catch radius which is huge.
Pryor shows good instincts for fighting back to the ball and making tough catches. Here he is open but the throw comes out late and forces him to work back to make the catch in front of the rotating corner.
This next play is one that gives me some hope for Pryor. It isn't the most spectacular play, just a simple comeback, but watch the subtle shove that he gives Malcolm Butler at the top of the route to create separation without extending his arms and drawing the ref’s attention. That kind of detail is something that he will need to continue to refine if he wants to take the next step as a receiver.
This next play shows off Pryor’s RAC-ability. He
Previously covered Free Agents in this series:
Bubble Boys (players on the roster bubble)