When Will Terrelle Pryor Be a Star Quarterback for the Oakland Raiders?

Carl CockerhamSenior Analyst IOctober 5, 2011

When Will Terrelle Pryor Be a Star Quarterback for the Oakland Raiders?

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    Many believe that Terrelle Pryor was another typical Al Davis reach because of his speed. They said, "He won't make it as an the NFL quarterback. His talents don't translate to the NFL game." 

    I believe that Pryor will be a star in the NFL but didn't concern myself with it at first because he couldn't play anytime soon. But as he gets closer to being eligible to play, I decided to dig into the busts and success stories of the past to see what Pryor's possibilities may be.

    From all that I gathered, he will be that franchise quarterback.

    The question is when?

    Turn the page to take a closer look.

How Long Will Campbell Hold Him Off?

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    Jason Campbell has everything to do with how long it will take for Pryor to be the man in Raider Nation. Last year, he got off to a rocky start, got benched twice, then came on to finish strong in 2010.

    Playing in the same offense in back to back years for the first time since he was in high school made me expect Campbell to start strong in 2011. He is off to a much better start than he was last year, but it isn't the start of a breakout year I expected.

    In the first three games, Campbell looked as if he could do what ever the Raiders needed him to do. He threw for 323 yards and two touchdown passes in Buffalo as they were needed—leaving the game with the lead late in the fourth quarter.

    Against the Broncos and the Jets, Campbell managed the game as he didn't need to do much with McFadden running the ball so well. In Week 4, he threw for 344 yards but his admitted indecisiveness caused him to throw an interception in the redzone.

    That actually changed the momentum of the game, and Campbell threw another interception when trying to get the momentum back. Throwing for over 300 yards is great, but being a Raiders quarterback is about making the plays you need to make.

    I'm not giving up on Campbell just yet, but he has yet to show he can consistently do that. Therefore, I cannot say that he is a quarterback who's beyond the need for a plan B.

    Campbell will have to play better to delay Pryor's stardom.

Evidence That Pryor Is Dressed for Success

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    Let's look at some top college quarterbacks who made it and actually played well early in the NFL the last 15 years. "Big" Ben Roethlisberger is the leader with Matt Ryan, Vince Young, Joe Flacco, Michael Vick, Mathew Stafford, Sam Bradford and Josh Freeman.

    You may not want to count Young because of his meltdown in Tennessee, but he's 30-18 as a starter and went to the playoffs twice in his first four years. All but Michael Vick and Matt Ryan of this group had a completion percentage of over 60 percent in their last year in college.

    They also had at least two years of starting experience in college.

    On the bust side of things, Kyle Boller and Ryan Leaf had completion percentages of 48 percent and 54 percent respectively. It looks to me like their arm strength made scouts ignore compeltion percentages in college.

    Ryan (Matt) quickly improved his accuracy, while Vick ran around until his accuracy came around. But the with top college quarterbacks, the norm is problems in college turn into bigger problems in the NFL.

    Then you have one-hit wonders in college like JaMarcus Russell, Tim Couch and Akili Smith. There simply isn't enough film to go on and enough experience for the players to have developed.

    Pryor is a three-year starter (inlcuding as a true freshman) and completed 65 percent of his passes last year.

Good Situation

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    The common denominator the aforementioned successful quarterbacks have is going into good situations. All of them but Mathew Stafford and Michael Vick have offensive lines that protect the quarterback well.

    But Stafford has Megatron (Calvin Johnson) to throw to and an emerging defense led by Ndamakong Suh. Josh Freeman has a good cast of weapons to throw to with a good running game and defense himself.

    Bradford has Steven Jackson—nothing else needs to be said about that one. Vince Young had Travis Henry and later Chris Johnson in the back field and a good defense as well.

    Joe Flacco has Ray Lewis, the rest of the defense, and Ray Rice in the backfield to go with Anquan Boldin. Michael Vick had Warrick Dunn in the backfield as well as Roddy White and Alge Crumpler to throw to.

    Roethlisberger had it all with Jerome Bettis, Willie Parker and now Rashard Mendenhall to run the ball. He's had guys like Hines Ward and Mike Wallace to throw to with a defense to constantly get him the ball back too.

    Pryor would have McFadden and Bush in the backfield with Jacoby Ford, Louis Murphy and Chaz Schilens to throw to. David Ausberry is a 4.4 running tight end for the future and Marcel Reece is a 4.4 running fullback/weapon.

    It's all there for Pryor.

Mobile Quarterbacks

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    Being a mobile quarterback could very well help his cause toward getting on the field sooner. I already mentioned that Young went to the playoffs twice in his first four years.

    After going 1-1 as a starter in his first year, Vick went 8-6-1 in his second year and led his then-Falcons to a playoff win. Roethlisberger is mobile quarterback who went 13-0 as a starter as a rookie and went to the AFC Championship game. 

    Vick is the speed mobile quarterback with 4.2 wheels to run away from defenders in order to find receivers down the field or break long runs for touchdowns. Roethlisberger, at 6'5", 245 pounds, is a power mobile quarterback who breaks tackles in order to find a receiver down the field or run for a first down.

    Pryor, at 6'6", 233 pounds, running a 4.3 40, may very well be a cross between the two.

Pryor to Help Running Game

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    Pryor has the more of the same skill set as Vince Young—being faster with a bigger arm. The Raiders are first and foremost a running team so using Pryor would help McFadden the same way Young helped Chris Johnson.

    McFadden himself may see a 2,000-yard season if Pryor were there to keep the backside outside linebacker from crashing down. That formula works as Johnson had one 2,000-yard season while Young attained a 31-18 record with two playoff appearances as a starter.

    Young did have a meltdown or two, but his skill set hasn't been replaced, leading to the Titans plummeting. Just remember that the Titans were 4-4 with young at quarterback and 2-6 without him in 2010.

    Johnson's production dropped quite a bit too.

Not Asked to Do Too Much

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    The key to a young quarterback's success is not asking him to do too much. The Raiders will have a great defense when everyone is healthy and a running game so the franchise doesn't go on Pryor's back too soon.

    They can give Pryor a few pass plays to work with and run the ball as they are now. Campbell isn't asked to do a lot in this offense either, so the Raiders may figure they can put the rookie in to do what he's doing.

    The Raiders can also ask Pryor to go, "Primary receiver, check one, take off and run." 

    Even if it isn't to start, they may have a package or two in there for him.

Can Throw!

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    In the same pre-draft workout that he ran his 4.3 40-yard dash, Pryor threw a football 80 yards in the air. No one just throws a ball for distance at a Pro Day, so Pryor had to have done that to show out in front of the Raiders.

    I guess he wasn't lying when he told the media the Raiders were on the top of his list of teams to go to. Hearing all this made me pull out some tape of Pryor, who I have to admit I was a fan of in college.

    Pryor throws a beautiful, high-arching deep ball that his receivers can easily run under and catch. Yes it's college, but the man can throw a good deep ball just like he runs a 4.3 no matter where he's playing.

    He can also throw on the run.

    I once saw him roll to his left, snap his hips around and throw one 60 yards in the air for a touchdown. The only other quarterback I've ever seen do that is John Elway!

    That makes Pryor a perfect match for the track team the Raiders have. 

Moment Not Too Big for Pryor

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    Campbell has yet to show that no moment is too big for him in his seventh year in the NFL. He plays a little scared at times, causing him to turn the ball over and miss out on opportunities for big plays.

    Another thing that bothers me is that he has shown that he seems only to be able to sneak up on teams. He doesn't seem to handle being front and center—making me believe that he doesn't handle success well.

    Pryor has had cameras following him around (much of it with controversy) ever since his days at Ohio State. So I would hardly believe that he would get to the NFL and tighten up too much to succeed.

    He was able to buckle down and focus in the middle of all the illegal benefits investigations. Something that really stands out to me is that Pryor doesn't tighten up in big games.

    He was the MVP of the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl games respectively.

    I don't see any moment being to big for him.

    Pryor's swagger has great Raiders quarterback written all over it too.

The Meeting Room

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    Tom Brady was a nobody, six-round pick who no one thought would do anything in the NFL. I have as much respect for him as any other quarterback in the league because he made himself into a top quarterback in the NFL by working extra hard.

    We always hear about how he's the first one in the Patriots facility and the last one to leave.

    Is Terrelle Pryor that guy?

    Vick and Ryan worked extra hard on their accuracy issues as they and the others from the aforementioned successful group worked hard in the film room too. I have to say that Pryor will put in his work as well because he is a third round pick without a guaranteed contract. 

    Pryor has even more fuel to add to the fire as Jon Gruden seemed to belittle Pryor, trying to see if he could get a rise out of him in their meeting. Therefore, you can't really tell what Pryor knows about reading and reacting to what defenses do but that meeting had to have sparked a flame within Pryor.

    Now he's in the meeting room with Raiders head coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Al Saunders They are not only teaching him but trying to figure out how quickly he's learning and what he already knows.

    Remember, it was Jackson who noticed Russell's apathy in meetings and practice, leading him to covince Davis to cut him. That was also a big part of why fellow bust Ryan leaf was ultimately sent packing.

    Is Pryor showing them something that would lead them to wanting to get him on the field faster?

    If he is, that could be what led to the appeal.

Cam Newton

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    Cam Newton balled out in his first quarter of a season as a pro!

    I know that's just four games, but it shows something to be able to go out and play that way in your first four NFL games. It really shows that the Panthers got the right guy, and they will be able to develop him going forward.

    They got the right guy because Newton had to have worked really hard in the meeting and film room to date. His first season will end up being a good one if he keeps up the hard work that he's putting in now.

    That's always the difference between how fast or if a quarterback is going to develop. It doesn't matter what type of system you come from in college. You have to work and study hard to play in this league.

    I bring Newton up because he came from the same offense Pryor did in college, has the same skill set and caught on right away as a pro after the lockout. Sam Bradford also comes from the spread but the doesn't have the same skill set and didn't go into the league during the lockout.  

    The Raiders might be figuring they can get something out of Pryor by midseason with Newton's great start.

    Much will depend on Campbell from here though.


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    Obviously, the other quarterbacks were developed properly so what about Pryor?

    It doesn't look good as the Raiders haven't drafted and developed a quarterback since Ken Stabler. That's because Davis didn't have Jackson and Saunders to develop quarterbacks during that time.

    Remember, it was Jackson and Saunders who developed Flacco to succeed in his rookie year. There's no reason why they can't do something similar with a young man with Pryor's talents.

    Flacco doesn't have the option of running when all else fails the way Pryor does.


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    Pryor all of the sudden changed his mind and decided unsuccessfully to appeal his suspension a few weeks ago. I can't help but wonder if Davis has something to do with it so he can get him on the field faster.

    Does he still believe in Campbell?

    Is it because he doesn't trust Boller if Campbell gets hurt?

    I like Campbell for now, but who knows what Davis is thinking?

    The appeal could have simply been a move to get Pryor practicing with the team faster and nothing more. He will be a star in the NFL in my opinion, but I can't say that I know when that will happen.

    I just gave you all the facts leading into that I could dig up.

    What do you think?