Nearly four months ago, the Seattle Seahawks acquired Terrelle Pryor from the Oakland Raiders for a seventh-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, which the Raiders used on current third-string safety Jonathan Dowling. A fairly low-risk trade, the Seahawks brought Pryor in to compete with Tarvaris Jackson for the backup quarterback spot behind Russell Wilson.
Despite speculation that Pete Carroll would possibly use Pryor as a receiver, the head coach has been rather adamant from the beginning that Pryor is strictly in Seattle to play quarterback. While Seahawks fans should trust Carroll and the coaching staff, they should also wonder if Pryor could be better utilized at a different position: tight end.
Two weeks ago, tight end Anthony McCoy was placed on injured reserve (IR) for the second consecutive season after tearing his Achilles tendon. Suddenly, the trio-threat of McCoy, Zach Miller and Luke Willson was broken.
At 6-foot-5 and 260 pounds, McCoy was supposed to be the athletic, pass-catching tight end primed for a breakout season in this offense. With him on IR, Cooper Helfet — who has spent the past two seasons on the Seahawks’ practice squad — has been filling in as Seattle’s third tight end. Helfet had a solid game last week against the Denver Broncos and caught one pass for 20 yards. He is a sure-handed option, and there’s nothing that stands out as a big weakness in his game. But one has to be intrigued about the possibilities of having Pryor’s 6-foot-4 frame and 4.38-speed running seam routes down the middle of the field. That is a matchup nightmare for any defense.
Pryor has an impressive resume as a quarterback, but all of it came from before or during his college days at Ohio State University. Since he entered the NFL in 2011, he has yet to prove himself a capable professional quarterback. He was so effective in high school and college because he could rely on his athletic ability to create plays with his feet. But the NFL is a different animal.
To be a successful quarterback, you need to be able to throw an accurate ball from the pocket. You need to go through all your reads. You need to make sound decisions. Pryor has not been able to do any of those things consistently. Sure, he is competing to be a backup quarterback for the defending Super Bowl champions, but almost any Seattle fan will tell you that Jackson will win the job. Fourth-stringer B.J. Daniels has even impressed and shown improvement throughout training camp. In other words, the Seahawks are fine at quarterback without Pryor in the mix, and chances are the Seahawks could end up cutting him before the season begins in three weeks.
However, rather than releasing Pryor, it would be wise for the coaching staff to harness his unique blend of size and speed and place him at a position where he can really excel. Besides, the Seahawks are all about competition, right?
Coach Carroll is well-known for getting the best out of his players. As the middle of the preseason approaches, Seattle’s coach should consider going back on his word to keep Pryor at quarterback for the team’s benefit as well as Pryor’s. Whether or not it pans out, it’s worth experimenting with an athletic and gifted football player like Pryor. With McCoy out for the year, it’s a low-risk decision with tremendous upside. It could be the next “genius-move” by Carroll.