Raiders stick to nature by taking Pryor

Terrelle Pryor likely will not help the Oakland Raiders in 2011.

He is getting a late start and he will serve a five-game suspension at the start of the season. For a player who is already considered a project, his rookie season will likely be lost.

The real question is will the former Ohio State quarterback be worth the risk Oakland took by using its 2012 third-round draft pick on him in Monday's supplemental draft?

Let’s get this out of the way right now: Taking Pryor with a third-round pick is too high. It just is. He is not a polished player. He needs a lot of work. There’s even a chance Oakland could eventually move him to receiver, so there is no clear path for him.

But the allure is that Pryor is supremely athletic. He ran a 4.41 40-yard dash at his pro day on Saturday. At 6-foot-6 and 240 pounds, that is stunningly fast. But Pryor (who’ll likely sign a four-year deal worth around $2.34 million with about $600,000 in bonus money, according to the rookie-pool scale) is raw. With his size, speed and arm strength, Pryor is certainly worth trying to develop, even though there are major concerns about his game.

In the end, the Raiders’ decision to take him was predictable. The Raiders always take speed players. That’s why Darrius Heyward-Bey was taken with the No. 7 overall pick in 2009 despite questions about his hands and readiness. That’s why cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke was taken in the third round in April despite the fact he wasn’t a full-time starter in college. That’s why running back Taiwan Jones was taken in the fourth round this year despite the fact he came from a small school and he has durability concerns. I'm not saying all of these choices were bad, but they fit the Raiders' profile just like Monday's choice of Pryor does.

Speed rules owner Al Davis’ world. Now he has another speed demon with legitimate football questions in Pryor.

I think what sealed Oakland’s decision to take Pryor was the fact that it will get some compensatory draft picks in 2012 because of the departures of Nnamdi Asomugha, Zach Miller and Robert Gallery in free agency. The comp-pick process is complicated, and Oakland may get just two picks. But I could see it getting two picks at the end of the third round. The comp picks will not be awarded until next offseason.

Oakland will need those choices. It doesn’t have as second-, third- or fourth-round pick now. This is not a team without needs. Taking Pryor could compromise future movements.

But, in the best-case scenario, the Raiders get a solid, young quarterback they can develop. Starter Jason Campbell is not under contract after this season. It’s smart that the Raiders have a youngster to develop.

It will be interesting to see how Oakland addresses its quarterback situation once Pryor’s suspension is over. Trent Edwards and Kyle Boller back up Campbell. Will Oakland carry four quarterbacks on the 53-man roster for much of the season?

We’ll see. That is the only short-term concern about this selection. Taking Pryor is all about the future.