Terrelle Pryor Climbing Oakland Raiders Depth Chart Entering 2013

D.J. O'ConnorSenior Analyst IIIDecember 30, 2012

SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 30:  Terrelle Pryor #6 of the Oakland Raiders slides in for a touchdown in front of Marcus Gilchrist #38 of the San Diego Chargers to trail 24-21 during the fourth quarter at Qualcomm Stadium on December 30, 2012 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

On January 1, 2012, when the Oakland Raiders played the San Diego Chargers to end the 2011 NFL season, the game had significant postseason ramifications.

Almost a year later, the two teams met again with absolutely nothing on the line to wrap up a forgettable 2012 season.

This time, the teams were focused on their futures, and the biggest part of the Raiders' future is Terrelle Pryor.  Pryor, the last player to be drafted by Al Davis, is a great athlete who is still raw in terms of his football skills.

Pryor made his first career NFL start on Sunday, and he will now have a long offseason to ponder whether he has done enough to earn more extensive playing time in 2013.

In Week 16 at Carolina, starting quarterback Carson Palmer was injured in the first quarter. Rather than substituting Pryor for Palmer, coach Dennis Allen picked Matt Leinart to finish the game, which the Raiders would lose, 17-6.

In Week 17, Pryor made the start, and we now have a good idea of how he has progressed since being a supplemental draft pick in 2011.  

Pryor did not look like the savior of the franchise that ended its 2012 season with a 4-12 record.  Pryor completed 46 percent of his passes (13-of-28) for 150 yards while throwing a pair of touchdowns and a interception.  Pryor added 49 rushing yards and a touchdown on nine carries.

Going beyond the numbers and watching the game, Pryor does not look ready to be the starting quarterback on a weekly basis.  

Some of his throws were lobbed softly and could have been knocked down or intercepted against a better defense.  He also looked inaccurate on several passes, as he missed open receivers, and he threw off-balance too often.

There were some positives to take away from Pryor's first start.

Pryor was able to stretch plays with his feet and turn sacks into incompletions.  With a better receiving corps, Pryor would have also had more completions, as Marcel Reece and Denarius Moore dropped a few catchable balls.

Pryor also showed improvement in maturity and leadership by breaking up a scuffle in the first half that saw Takeo Spikes and Mike Goodson get ejected.  Pryor threw Goodson out of the scuffle, knowing that a penalty on him could—and did—negate a pass interference call against San Diego.

After this performance, Pryor does not look like a starter yet.  Could that be changed with a full offseason of workouts and OTA's with his teammates and training camp? Certainly.  

For right now, I have to say that Pryor placed himself ahead of Matt Leinart as the backup quarterback, but Pryor still has work to do to become a starter in the NFL.