I get Terrelle Pryor questions. I get them from Eagles fans and Redskins fans, mainly, though one Cowboys fan who's down on Tony Romo (still don't get that, by the way) did ask recently. I don't hear Pryor from Giants fans, and I'm not sure why but I hope it's because Giants fans realize their team is set at both quarterback and receiver and therefore have no use for a project like Pryor, talented though he may be.
In fact, of all the teams in the NFC East, the only one I think should even think about taking a shot on Pryor with a late-round supplemental draft pick is the one that has major questions, present and future, at both the quarterback and the wide receiver position: The Washington Redskins.
This occurred to me while reading this excellent K.C. Joyner analysis of Pryor's NFL prospects. Joyner says that a critical factor in trying to gauge risk vs. reward when evaluating college players is tracking improvement in big-game performance throughout their college careers. Cam Newton, he says, showed this, playing his best in the biggest games this past fall and winter for Auburn. Pryor, he says, showed quite the opposite, coming up small in big games against tough competition. Pryor's passer rating in games against Top 30 teams in 2009 was 125.75. In 2010, it dropped to 114.25. Against non-top-30 teams it was 138.61 in 2009 and 189.67. As Joyner writes:
To add more perspective to this decline, consider that in 2009-10, Pryor had 14 games against teams that ended the season with a winning record. He reached or topped his freshman 8.3 YPA average in only four of those games.
What's even worse about these totals is the fact this wasn't an unknown factor for Pryor last season. He was taken to task for his subpar showings in big games the week before the Wisconsin game, yet still went out and posted an 89.66 passer rating, a total that was easily the lowest of his season and the second-lowest of his career.
Having an exceptionally poor stat line in what may have been the most important game on the Buckeyes' 2010 schedule pretty much ended Pryor's Heisman Trophy candidacy, and called into question his ability to step up during crunch time.
When it is combined with the entirety of his mediocre big-game performances over the past two years, it shows why his best route to landing on an NFL roster may be via changing to the wide receiver position.
The point, then, is that Pryor is going to be a project no matter what position he ends up playing in the NFL. If you love his physical ability and think you can coach a quarterback out of him, maybe he's worth a late-round flyer. If you love his physical ability and think you can coach a wide receiver out of him, same deal. But each of those "if"s comes with significant risk if your roster only provides Pryor that one avenue.
If, however, you're a team that has openings, short- and long-term, at both quarterback and receiver -- and if you love Pryor's physical ability and think you can coach something out of him -- then that risk might be a little more worthwhile. Which is why, of the four teams in this division, the only one that should look Pryor's way is the Redskins.