Oakland Raiders: Can Terrelle Pryor Be the Team's Starting Quarterback in 2012?

Tony Santorsa@@TonySantorsaSenior Writer IIJune 14, 2012

HEMPFIELD TOWNSHIP, PA - AUGUST 20:  Terrelle Pryor throws during his pro day at a practice facility on August 20, 2011 in Hempfield Township, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

If there's one thing that we've learned over the years, it's do not count anything out of the ordinary to happen with the Oakland Raiders—and that very well could happen this season.

Entering 2012, Oakland's depth chart at quarterback follows like so: Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart, Terrelle Pryor and Kyle Newhall-Caballero. 

There's no question that there's talent in the team's quarterback corps, but the biggest concern is consistency—and Palmer most certainly lacked that during his first year with the Raiders. 

In 2011, after being traded from the Cincinnati Bengals to Oakland, Palmer appeared in 10 games while starting nine of them. In those 10 games, Palmer posted a respectable 80.5 quarterback rating while completing 60.7 percent of his passes for 13 touchdowns and a pitiful 16 interceptions.

Granted, three of those interceptions came in clean-up duty when he was infused into the team's offense during Week 7 against the Kansas City Chiefs—but 16 interceptions in 10 games is still pretty putrid. 

Palmer went just 4-5 as Oakland's starter and proved to be extremely inconsistent with a team that had talent on both sides of the ball. 

Palmer's backup, and the man ahead of Pryor on the depth chart, Leinart, is also just as inconsistent as Palmer, if not more. 

Leinart has been a huge disappointment thus far in his lackluster five-year career. The former USC standout has posted an 8-10 record as a starter while recording a mediocre 71.6 quarterback rating while tossing 15 touchdowns compared to 20 interceptions. 

From what we saw from Palmer a year ago and what we've seen from Leinart throughout his career, there's a quality opportunity for Pryor to steal the show in Oakland—and that's because of one huge factor—a new coaching staff. 

First-year head coach Dennis Allen has assembled a coaching staff with Greg Knapp as the team's offensive coordinator. Knapp's experience as an offensive coordinator in the NFL dates all the way back to 2001 when he was the San Francisco 49ers O.C.—a position he held until 2003. From there, Knapp spent 2004-06 as the Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator, a small stint with the Raiders in 2007 and 2008, and then, a one-year stop with the Seattle Seahawks in 2009. 

The starting quarterbacks that Knapp had coached with while serving as the OC for those teams were as follows Jeff Garcia, Michael Vick, JaMarcus Russell and Matt Hasselbeck. Now, what do all of these quarterbacks have in common? Well, some of them might be considered scramblers, but all of them are athletic—and can throw on the run. 

Now what's Pryor's greatest trait as a quarterback? He's just so athletic. 

Out of Palmer, Leinart, Pryor and Newhall-Caballero, Pryor is by far the most athletic quarterback when it comes to moving around in the pocket.

In addition to his athleticism, Pryor has great attitude heading into his second year in the league.

In an article posted by Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk, he reports how Pryor told the Oakland media he's not only "a good athlete who ran for more than 2,000 yards at Ohio State and could have played Division I college basketball, he’s primarily a pocket passer. Pryor said he’s often wrongly lumped in with college quarterbacks who thrived in a spread offense."

That certainly could unfold to be true—but until we see Pryor on the field, it will be hard to label him as  "primarily a pocket passer." 

Some might figure that Pryor has no chance at starting at quarterback in 2012 with the Raiders, but just take a look at how poorly Palmer has played over the years—there's certainly a chance. 

If Pryor can show up Leinart during preseason and earn the No. 2 spot backing up Palmer, then there's just a chance that we'll see some glimpses of Pryor in this upcoming season. And who knows what that can lead to. 


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