Pryor to the NFL? Not now. No way.
A column on the National Football Post website that surfaced on Monday cites a source saying that suspended Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor is considering entering the NFL Supplemental Draft and leaving the school.
1. I absolutely don't believe it.
2. It would be a huge mistake.
Pryor has the gifts to play in the National Football League. He may not ever be a full-time quarterback in the NFL, but his size, speed and playmaking ability that some team will draft him and give him a chance. That chance should come a little over a year from now, after Pryor gets healthy, gets an opportunity to redeem himself for his mistakes and, most importantly, plays well enough to make teams covet him in the first half of the draft.
That simply isn't going to happen in this year's supplemental draft -- if there even is one. The NFP article also cites a lockout-related issue that would make such a decision even riskier. Until the NFL has a new collective bargaining agreement, there is no supplemental draft.
Pryor has been immature and inconsistent, but he's a gifted athlete and has made strides towards being a more complete quarterback over the last two seasons. I actually believed Pryor would enter this year's NFL draft when the late December news broke about his five-game suspension, but the foot surgery that's keeping him out of most team activities this spring changed that thought.
A guy with as much to prove to the NFL as Pryor needs to do it on the field in the fall. Entering the draft and not being able to work out for teams this spring would have been as dumb a decision as ... being the quarterback at Ohio State and expecting to get away with selling merchandise you earned on the field. He's the Big Man on a very big campus. He should have known better, but that's for a different day.
As far as future employment (and success) in the NFL, the best plan for Pryor over the next 10-12 months is something like this...
1. Continue to rehab and coach up the young quarterbacks this spring that are vying to replace Pryor for the first five games this season. Besides his ability to throw accurate, NFL-type passes, the most important thing scouts will want to know a year from now is how Pryor's matured and handled the adversity of the NCAA issues. He's not going to be judged on his immaturity at 17 or 19 years of age as much as he will be judged on how he's grown, as a player and person, and how he values the game and his chance to play it professionally.
2. Play well in the final 7-9 games of Ohio State's 2011 season. Pryor has to show progression and leadership in what will be an awkward and challenging situation. He'll also know exactly what NFL scouts want to see from him. Is it crazy to think he could play his way into the first couple of rounds? Maybe and probably. But last year at this time, nobody knew who Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert were.
3. Be a sponge. His time watching from the sidelines could and should serve him well going forward. A year from now, teams might want Pryor to change positions, and, regardless, will need to know he loves the game and that he is willing to master a new and complicated offense. He could use a situation like the Senior Bowl -- or even a lesser postseason game -- to strengthen his stock, whether by throwing passes, catching them or both. Trying to enter the supplemental draft now would cut off any of those opportunities and could cost him big in the long run.
Notre Dame receiver Michael Floyd is considered a candidate to enter the supplemental draft because he's suspended from Notre Dame's team after being arrested for a second DUI last month. Floyd is a big target who many thought would enter this year's draft. In my opinion, he would have been drafted somewhere between picks 45-70 if he had left school.
The NFP report says Pryor's decision could be tied to Floyd's, but that's more than just a slight stretch.
Floyd's situation now is this: He can hope his head coach reinstates him, or he can apply for the supplemental draft using the suspension as his change of circumstance. Because he's a somewhat proven commodity at his position and an intriguing athlete at 6-foot-3 and almost 230 pounds, Floyd would be drafted if he proves to a team the DUI troubles are behind him. Though the biggest issue with Floyd is obviously one of an off-the-field nature, entering the supplemental draft would be a good strategy football-wise because receiver-needy teams would first have the real draft and free agency to bolster and evaluate their rosters and receiving corps. Teams happy and comfortable with the homework done on Floyd would target him, probably in the third-round range.
Evaluating Pryor under such circumstances would be a much trickier process, one that would involve guesswork and some team rolling the dice at a time when his stock doesn't figure to be very high. Maybe some team thinks Pryor can eventually be Ben Roethlisberger, but it's unlikely any team would even use a fifth-round supplemental pick on Pryor this year. Maybe some team thinks he can be the next Joshua Cribbs or Brad Smith, guys who have made money for lesser players trying to make a position change like Pat White and Armanti Edwards.
White and Edwards got drafted high based on potential, good workouts and better timing. As far as Pryor even trying the NFL right now, the timing couldn't be worse.