Lonnie Pryor Scouting Report: NFL Outlook for Florida State FB
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Former Florida State fullback Lonnie Pryor is a rare breed of fullback in this day and age in the NFL. Many experts could consider Pryor a 'tweener at the position—at 6'0", 230 pounds with a larger frame, he is smaller than a traditional fullback but larger and thicker than a standard running back. However, due to a pass-happy league, this type of fullback could become the standard in the near future.
Pryor was recruited out of high school as a running back prospect but was asked to bulk up and play at fullback upon joining the Seminoles. However, he was still featured as a rusher in college and rushed for 18 touchdowns during his tenure at Florida State (via ESPN).
He was successful enough as a dual-role player while in college to earn himself a possible fifth- or sixth-round grade while ranking second in his positional group (via CBS Sports).
His best attribute would be his thick, powerful lower half of his body. Pryor excels in lowering his pads and driving his legs to push himself forward through tacklers. This aspect helps him tremendously as both a ball-carrier and as a lead blocker.
Pryor also has great vision and can create holes for his running back that would seem non-existent previously. He is a fierce blocker at the second level and does not hesitate to lunge at would-be tacklers in an effort to spring the ball-carrier loose.
He can add a dimension in the passing game as well—while at Florida State, he caught 41 passes and scored five touchdowns from the fullback position.
As a blocker, Pryor tends to push himself into defenders rather than explode into them in attempt to knock them back. This can result in Pryor needing to stay on one block for far too long. This could be due to his narrow shoulders, which cause him to lack the upper body strength of a typical fullback.
When Pryor was asked to bulk up before his freshman season and again before his junior season, he was noticeably slower afterwards. This will affect his stock as a ball-carrier but not as a lead blocker.
There has not been many ball-carrying fullbacks in the NFL in recent years. However, Pryor has the ability to be that type of player at the next level.
He would not be solely a rusher in the NFL, as some past fullbacks have been, but he can certainly provide a change of pace for a running back. Pryor has great leg drive and is very difficult to bring down, which could allow him to serve as a short-yardage and goal-line rusher.
His primary purpose in the NFL, however, would be a blocker. He will still need to continue to bulk up to be consistent in that role going forward.
Although he was mainly a ball-carrier in his earlier days, when Pryor was asked to make the switch to fullback, he did so without questioning the decision.
His carries were significantly decreased as he played more of an unsung-hero role to the running backs of Florida State. His work ethic and tenacity on the field never diminished, which proves that he not only accepted, but relished his new role.
This goes to show that Pryor is not a selfish player and should bring a great presence into the locker room of an NFL team.
Due to his size and quickness, Pryor would be best suited for a West Coast offense at the NFL level.
In a typical West Coast offense, a speed running back is generally in the backfield. Pryor's speed would allow him to get to his assigned block in a hurry without slowing down the ball-carrier.
This system also features many sweeps outside the tackles. Pryor has shown during his collegiate career that he is very capable of getting to the edge in a hurry as both a ball-carrier and a lead blocker.
Pryor also has good hands as a receiver for a fullback and can provide an extra outlet for a quarterback looking for a check-down option on passing plays.
We have already established that Pryor can be a factor as a receiver from the fullback position. The other aspect of the passing game in which he can be an asset is in pass protection.
He has great lateral agility for his size as well as his aforementioned great vision. Both of these aspects come into play when Pryor is used in pass protection.
His ability to find a defender on a blitz and adjust to a better angle to provide a block is top-notch. Because of his thick, lower frame, he is able to sustain a solid base and is rarely bowled over by a rushing defender attempting to get to the quarterback.
This may be the one attribute that Pryor has carried with him since his early days as a ball-carrier.
He was always a between-the-tackles type of rusher while using his power and drive of his lower body to will himself through would-be tacklers at the line of scrimmage. This type of rushing ability is shown throughout his collegiate career when asked to carry the football.
The same amount of power is used as a lead blocker as well. He has a great initial burst and quickly builds momentum while driving his lower body forward and keeping his pad level low. This gives him the ability to get leverage on a defender and run him over at the point of attack.
In the NFL, Pryor would be a great fit in a fast-paced, quick-firing offense. He should be asked to add more bulk to his frame no matter which team he lands with. Even so, he will still be used as a dual-threat as both a lead blocker and a ball-carrier at the NFL level.
A team with a quicker, shiftier running back that relies on short-to-intermediate passing routes would best benefit from Pryor's services.
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