Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor’s journey to the NFL might take longer than expected.
Not only has the NFL yet to schedule a supplemental draft for the 2011 season, but Pryor might not qualify if there is one despite having announced plans to enter after leaving Ohio State in early June.
“If there are no players eligible for a supplemental draft, there is no supplemental draft,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello wrote in an email to FOXSports.com on Sunday. “It is for players whose circumstances have changed in an unforeseen way after the regular (college) draft. It is not a mechanism for simply bypassing the regular (draft).”
Aiello cited examples of “unforeseen” changes as players who were kicked off their college teams, declared academically ineligible or graduated and then decided to leave school. Pryor doesn’t qualify on any of those fronts.
Although engulfed in a payola scandal that also involved some teammates, Pryor’s eligibility status at Ohio State hadn’t recently changed at the time of his departure.
Pryor could have turned pro before April’s draft but instead accepted a suspension for the first five games of the 2011 season from then-coach Jim Tressel. Pryor left Ohio State shortly after a disgraced Tressel announced his resignation under fire from the NCAA.
“In the best interests of my teammates, I’ve made the decision to forgo my senior year of football at the Ohio State University,” Pryor said in a statement released through his lawyer after first leaving the Buckeyes.
Pryor’s status for the supplemental draft will be determined by Joel Bussert, the league’s vice president of player personnel/football operations. Aiello said such eligibility is determined on a case-by-case basis.
The NFL has strict rules about supplemental draft eligibility because it doesn’t want players trying to skirt the regular draft in an attempt to manipulate where they might be picked. Quarterback Bernie Kosar did just that in 1985 to land with the Cleveland Browns instead of the Minnesota Vikings.
If the supplemental draft isn’t an option, Pryor could wait to enter the 2012 NFL draft or try to play in an alternate professional organization like the Canadian Football League. Pryor has signed with an agent and is ineligible to return to Ohio State.
The 6-foot-6, 230-pound Pryor was 31-4 in three seasons as an Ohio State starter and set a school rushing record for a quarterback with 2,164 yards. Some NFL draft analysts projected Pryor as a likely mid-round supplemental pick, although his perceived upside could result in an earlier selection.
When applicants qualify, the supplemental draft is held 10 days before the opening of the first training camp. But the delayed start to the NFL preseason because of a labor impasse with players has helped place this draft in limbo.
Earlier this month, Georgia running back Caleb King announced his intentions to enter the supplemental draft after being declared academically ineligible.