The Cleveland Browns made a trade on Thursday that could give defensive coordinator Gregg Williams some options -- but don't expect it to lead to an immediate focus on a 4-2-5 alignment.
With the move of Chris Kirksey to weakside linebacker, Davis had been penciled in as the starter inside in Williams' base 4-3. There really were no other experienced or evident options.
But the Browns decided that, with Davis in the final year of his contract, with Kirksey and Jamie Collins emerging as players and leaders, and with the need at safety, it was worth bringing in Pryor, a 2014 first-round pick who needs a fresh start to revive his career.
Coach Hue Jackson will address Pryor when he next meets the media this Tuesday. That might shed light on the team's plans.
Pryor is not a cover safety; in 44 games he had only two interceptions and two forced fumbles. He is a guy who likes to play physically -- he was nicknamed "Louisville Slugger" in college, and Rex Ryan (wrongly) compared him to Jack Tatum when he drafted him.
Which makes him sound very similar to another safety on the Browns, first-round pick Jabrill Peppers, who had 119 tackles and one interception in three seasons at Michigan.
The Browns are high on Peppers. They need to find out about Pryor, which means it's too soon to assume that Pryor will be a starter, or even make the roster. Jamar Taylor proved a year ago that a fresh start can be beneficial, but Pryor has a long way to go.
Which is why it's too soon to make immediate assumptions that Williams will use Peppers and Pryor together in a 4-2-5 alignment with Collins and Kirksey at linebacker.
Pryor has to show what he can do first, and Peppers also is learning the safety position in the NFL. And Williams likes him. A lot. The Browns used a first-round pick on Peppers to play safety, so it's not logical that they'd start altering his job after trading for a guy who didn't work out for another team. Especially when the defensive coordinator is high on him.
This isn't to say the Browns won't try Peppers and Pryor on the field together during camp. If Pryor works out, putting them on the field in a 4-2-5 would give the Browns two aggressive and active safeties, both of whom could provide blitz or run-support options. With the NFL more and more evolving into a passing league, teams often open in the nickel, and Williams uses a lot of fronts -- from the 4-2-5 to a 3-3-5.
But the Browns' questions at safety make determining the best nickel alignment iffy.
Is Jason McCourty a corner or a safety?
Can Pryor handle what Williams wants in coverage?
Can Pryor make the team?
The nickel involves putting the best coverage players on the field. If Pryor had coverage issues in New York, he's not going to get better simply by joining a 4-2-5 in Cleveland.
The more logical move for the Browns when they go to five defensive backs would be to put Taylor in the slot and McCourty outside -- assuming that they have safeties they believe can handle the positions.
The Browns didn't acquire Jack Tatum. They have to see what Pryor can do. Alignments will be determined once his skills are known.