Terrelle Pryor ended his Ohio State career on Tuesday, and the natural next question is where he will end up next. We’ve done some research looking at his options to see what his best path to being an NFL starting QB may be.
Pryor’s lawyer has already indicated that entering the NFL supplemental draft would be his preference. This is a little dicey in the midst of a lockout; while the CBA provides for a supplemental draft in a lockout, just as it did for a draft, none is currently scheduled. And with no opportunity to join a team immediately, being a supplemental draft pick could be even more tenuous than usual.
Amazingly, there have been just five quarterbacks taken in the supplemental draft since it began in 1977, and all five were first round picks. One, Bernie Kosar going to the Browns in 1985, was an unqualified success. The others – Dave Wilson to Saints in 1981, Timm Rosenbach to the Cardinals and Steve Walsh to the Cowboys in 1989, and Dave Brown to the Giants in 1992 – didn’t work out for player or team.
It’s hard to picture Pryor as a first-round pick, because even though he’s talented he has not been a consistent passer in his three years at Ohio State. But NFL Films’ Greg Cosell said he had heard Pryor connected with the first round. Would a team that needs a QB of the future (the Redskins come immediately to mind) take a shot at Pryor with an early-round pick? We could certainly see that happening.
The supplemental draft works like this: teams must submit “blind” bids on players – basically an email that indicates they would spend a certain round pick on the player. The winning team is the team that bids the earliest round, with ties broken by 2010 record. The winning team surrenders a 2012 pick in the equivalent round. Under this system, we could see Pryor being at least a third-round pick, and a team that falls in love with Pryor could take no chances and would have to spend an even higher pick to lock him up.
If Pryor were to enter the supplemental draft, 2011 would likely be a lost year, but he could be attractive to a team as a developmental project.
The UFL is only two years old, and only three QBs – J.P. Losman, Chris Greisen, and Richard Bartel – have moved from the minor league to the NFL. But the strategy has worked with other minor leagues – for example, Tommy Maddox used strong play in the XFL to become the Steelers’ starting quarterback. Playing the short UFL season would also lessen Pryor’s injury risk and potentially make him available to the NFL late in the 2011 season. Plus, several of the UFL teams are coached by ex-NFL head coaches. A good word from Marty Schottenheimer, Dennis Green, or Jim Fassel would make Pryor more marketable to the NFL, and spending time with such coaches would help Pryor’s development immensely. The UFL salary won’t be much, but the opportunity could be attractive to Pryor.
The CFL style of game favors running quarterbacks, so Pryor could absolutely tear up that league with his physical gifts. Could one amazing year in Canada set him up to move to the NFL? The path has been taken before – Warren Moon, Jeff Garcia, Doug Flutie, Joe Theismann, Erik Kramer, Joe Piscarcik, Sean Salisbury, and Dieter Brock are all quarterbacks who parlayed CFL success into an NFL shot. Moon, Theismann, and Garcia all turned those shots into significant success. (Props to this site for the CFL to NFL research.)
But the CFL season is an 18-game grind, and so playing there would present far more injury risk than the UFL. And most CFL contracts do not allow players to jump to the NFL until Jan. 1, which would put Pryor a couple of months behind the UFL timetable in terms of connecting with an NFL team. For those reasons, the UFL seems like a better fit for the future – even though in the present Pryor could be an immediate star above the border.
An FCS school
Pryor couldn’t transfer to another FBS (formerly I-A) school and play in 2011, but he could go down a level and play right away. That ploy has worked to get some players into the NFL in the past – most notably Joe Flacco, a first-round pick by the Ravens. Current Vikings third-stringer Rhett Bomar (who had a similar situation to Pryor at Oklahoma) also took this route. (Here’s a great blog on Bomar and Pryor.) But given the fact that Pryor already faces a five-game NCAA suspension and the possibility that he could be ruled ineligible for the whole year. And playing 6-8 games in the UFL would probably help him more than playing an equal number of games for an FCS squad. Still, this possibility should at least be on his radar.
The bottom line
If Pryor is going to be at least a mid-round pick, he should opt for the NFL supplemental draft. But that means he will be unlikely to see the field at all in 2011, and the lockout would also keep him from cashing in right away. Finding a way to work a one-year deal in the UFL or CFL would get Pryor on the field sooner, and if he played well he could actually advance his NFL draft stock for 2012. That’s a riskier way to go, but it would be a whole lot more fun for all of us to watch.