The 6’5 240 pound Terrelle Pryor has been steadfast in his belief that he can become a starting quarterback in the NFL although many scouts disagree with him. When the Oakland Raiders traded for Matt Flynn it was a clear sign that Reggie McKenzie and Dennis Allen did not have faith in Pryor as their starting quarterback this year. While Pryor has shown some promise as a quarterback, he needs to start learning how to play multiple positions.
Pryor wowed scouts at his pro-day in 2011 by running a 4.38 40-yard dash which made him the second fastest quarterback in NFL history behind Michael Vick. If Pryor was drafted as a wide receiver in the 2011 draft he would have been the fastest wide receiver coming out of that draft ahead of names like AJ Green (4.50), Julio Jones (4.39), and Torrey Smith (4.43). Not only is Pryor faster than those big name wide receivers, he is also taller than them. Although Pryor has all the intangibles to become a quality wide receiver he only had three receptions at Ohio State.
It wasn’t until week 16 of last year that former Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Knapp decided to use Pryor in a special package. Pryor lined up at quarterback and threw the ball to Carson Palmer who was lined up as a wide receiver. Palmer then threw the ball across field back to Pryor who broke a tackle and scampered 21 yards down the field. The 21 yard reception against the Carolina Panthers was the only reception of Pryor’s young career. Pryor would go on to start at quarterback the next week in San Diego where he went 13-28 for 150 yards with two touchdowns and one interception while running for 49 yards with a touchdown. During these two games, Pryor showed that he has explosive speed but also that he was not ready to become a starting quarterback.
While the Raiders brass insists that there will be a quarterback competition during training camp, it is all but guaranteed that Matt Flynn will be the starting quarterback during the regular season. Pryor can even find himself as the third string quarterback after the Raiders drafted Tyler Wilson in the fourth round. As of right now, it does not look like the Raiders’ offense will be scaring opposing defenses even though they do have some talented young receivers and a great but often injured running back in Darren McFadden. New offensive coordinator Greg Olson needs to find a way to get the ball in Pryor’s hands during the regular season. Not only can Pryor come in and play wide receiver, he can also run the read-option with McFadden and lineup in the wildcat formation which was made famous by Raiders assistant head coach Tony Sparano.
Pryor can be the Raiders’ wild card player that can confuse opposing defenses. With the speed of the team’s offense, even a half second of hesitation by an opposing team’s safeties would allow players like Jacoby Ford, Denarius Moore, and Rod Streater to break free into the open field and make big plays. Cross bay rivals, the San Francisco 49ers, showed how devastating the read-option can be to NFL defenses, and I think that Pryor can be even more dangerous than Colin Kaepernick while running in the open field. When Pryor is lined up at wide receiver, he would be taller than any cornerback going against him which would make it easy for him to jump up and catch fades thrown to his way in the red zone, but it also would allow him to run over the cornerback on screen passes.
Even though Pryor might be hesitant to learn other positions, it will benefit him in the long term. At the end of the day, successful players stay on the field while mediocre players and projects sit on the bench and hold clipboards. Kaepernick’s strong play while being used in special packages made it hard for Jim Harbaugh to keep him on the bench for the 49ers last year. If Pryor were to excel at being a wild card player for the Raiders next year, he would only strengthen his case that the Raiders use him as their starting quarterback in the future.
Jorge Contreras is an Oakland Raiders writer for RantSports.com.
Follow Jorge on Twitter @jraycontreras