Terrelle Pryor’s career at Ohio State can be summed up as a disappointment. On the field, he could have been the next Vince Young, and often looked the part. But off of it, he would become the face of the worst scandal at Ohio State since Woody Hayes’s ill-fated haymaker.
Terrelle Pryor was the original Johnny Manziel. Maybe he didn’t have the smile or the child-like wonder, but he walked around with an F-off attitude that was like holding both middle fingers up to anyone who wanted to criticize him.
After his junior season, in which he completed 65 percent of his passes for 2,772 yds, and 27 touchdowns and 11 interceptions and rushed for 754 yards, Pryor was not considered a lock to be a first round pick in the 2011 draft.
Combine those numbers with his size (6’5” 240 lbs.) and speed, (he had been clocked running the 40-yard dash as low as 4.33) and it’s shocking he wasn’t a consensus first rounder. Seeing the success of Colin Kaepernick or Robert Griffin III, there is little doubt Pryor would’ve been a first rounder in this year's draft.
Maybe Pryor would have vaulted his way into the first round if he had gone through the pre-draft workouts where he would have excelled. However, Pryor didn’t because he had promised to come back for his senior year.
He was one of the few players to enter the NFL via the supplemental draft, and the Oakland Raiders selected him by forfeiting their third round pick in the 2012 draft.
But can Pryor be an NFL quarterback and even become the face of one of the worst franchises of the last decade? If this was a few years ago, the answer would be no. However, two major shifts have occurred with the Raiders and the NFL. The Raiders have finally become a stable organization with the passing of Al Davis. The Davis family has given all power to GM Reggie McKenzie, who brings a far more level headed and knowledgeable approach to coaching hires and player evaluations.
Second, the landscape in the NFL is built for quarterbacks like Terrelle Pryor. Running quarterbacks are now viable. Up until a few years ago, this just wasn’t the case. The read option, which was featured by the Raiders extensively against the Colts last weekend, has become a deadly part of any playbook.
While Pryor wasn’t technically a professional at Ohio State, he needs to act like one now if he is going to succeed in the NFL.
What could hold Pryor back, though? Maybe he doesn’t have the intangibles to become a star quarterback and the face of a franchise. The biggest knock on Pryor in college was that he acted immature at times, especially during the extra benefits scandal that ended his college career.
With rumors swirling about how a local car dealership was allowing players to have their pick of cars to drive, Pryor showed up to a team meeting in a Nissan 350Z. This shows either he’s completely clueless when it comes to understanding how he’s perceived, or just didn't care about Ohio State.
Maybe it was both, as Pryor withdrew from Ohio State shortly after. I’m not here to evaluate Terrelle Pryor’s morals or decide whether or not he’s a good guy or not, because I’ve never met him. But his actions at the end of his time at Ohio State are simply inexcusable, even if he knew he was on the way out.
While he wasn’t technically a professional at Ohio State, he needs to act like one now if he is going to succeed in the NFL. He’s obviously taking some steps to doing so, as being being a starting quarterback in the NFL -- even for a bad team like the Raiders -- takes incredible work and maturity. However, maybe he hasn’t rounded the corner fully, as he wasn’t a captain for opening weekend.
Right now, the read-option is the hot topic in the NFL, and it plays perfectly to Pryor’s skill set. But will the read-option continue to be a viable play in the NFL as defensive coordinators get more looks at it, or will it go the way of the Wildcat? If the read-option becomes as easily defended as that forgotten fad, then it’s a huge blow to Pryor’s chances to be a superstar.
However, like Colin Kaepernick or Robert Griffin III, Pryor isn’t dependent on the read-option. He has an NFL arm and can make any throw there is. If he proves to have the attitude and work ethic of a franchise quarterback there is no reason to believe he won’t become one over the next few years, even if the read-option is just a flavor of the month.