Terrelle Pryor: Can the Former OSU Star Help the Pittsburgh Steelers?

Chris GazzeCorrespondent IJune 7, 2011

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 05:  Terrelle Pryor #2 of the Ohio State Buckeyes makes a leaping 5 yard touchdown reception over Blake Gideon #21 of the Texas Longhorns during the fourth quarter of the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl Game on January 5, 2009 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Ohio State star quarterback Terrelle Pryor will not return to the Buckeyes this fall.

“In the best interest of my teammates, I have made the decision to forgo my senior year of football at The Ohio State University,” said Pryor in a statement issued by his lawyer, Larry James.

One of the best college athletes in the nation, Pryor had little choice but to leave the Buckeyes following a five-game suspension for exchanging memorabilia for tattoos as well as a pending NCAA investigation for his use of cars.

Pryor’s next step, while not confirmed, will likely come in the form of entering the NFL supplemental draft.

As the top high school recruit in 2008, Pryor went to Ohio State with huge expectations and an ego to match.

Three Big Ten titles and two BCS bowl wins, including two MVP performances later, Pryor’s college career is over and his NFL career is in question.

In his three seasons at Ohio State, he never truly developed into a quarterback. He lacks mechanics, has sloppy footwork and has not demonstrated the ability to read a defense.

However, NFL teams cannot ignore his athletic abilities. A 6’6” athlete who runs a 4.40 40-yard dash can find a spot in the league, even with the off-the-field concerns.

Quite simply, Pryor is very arrogant and who can blame him? Ever since his high school days at Jeannette, he has been told how great he was. When you are constantly praised and dominate your competition, you begin to buy into the hype and the hype just kept coming for Pryor.

Now with his football career in question, it is time that he reevaluates how he handles himself off-the-field and to rehabilitate his character as well as continue to develop as a football player.

While the Pittsburgh Steelers have typically avoided drafting players with character issues, particularly with recent issues with Ben Roethlisberger, Santonio Holmes and James Harrison, the Steelers could be just the fit that Pryor needs, and I am certainly not talking about quarterback.

Pryor has the make of a potentially very, very good NFL receiver.

Though he has greatly matured over the past year, Roethlisberger has in the previously expressed his desire for a tall wide receiver.

“I’m always going to ask for a tall receiver,” Roethlisberger said in a 2008 interview with the Post-Gazette. “In the red zone, it’s nice to have a guy like that.”

“To have a big guy who can create mismatches—the same thing happened when [Plaxico Burress] was here. So much presence went to Plax’s side just because he’s a big, good receiver…I just think it would open stuff up for us a lot more.”

Since then, Hines Ward has been consistent the Steelers brought back veteran Antwaan Randle El. Pittsburgh also drafted speed receivers with Mike Wallace, one of the best deep threats in the league, as well as Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown.

While that is a nice group of receivers, there is not an option that is over 6’0” at the receiver position.

Of course there will be talk that the Steelers could always bring back Burress, but they are not going to sign a player who just got released from jail and has been away from the game for two years.

Pittsburgh also has Limas Sweed waiting in the shadows. He has the potential to be a big, physical receiver but his size has not resulted in any production on the field, and he has lacked the necessary mental makeup necessary of a professional.

Enter Pryor. He brings character concerns, but are they enough to keep the Steelers away? I don’t think so.

Pryor would be surrounded by a veteran locker room and a quarterback who has spent the past year rehabilitating his image. Who better to look up to for Pryor than Roethlisberger?

By making a position switch, Pryor’s ego should also be knocked down a notch, and it could help him mature as a player and a person.

Pryor would not be expected to contribute immediately, but he would certainly be a downfield threat with deceptive speed and a red zone option given his outstanding height and leaping ability.

As he is eased into the lineup, he will be able to learn the position from one of the all-time great Steelers in Ward as well as another former college quarterback, Randle El, who made a successful transition to receiver.

Pryor would provide Pittsburgh with a truly elite level prospect to develop opposite of Wallace as a legitimate top receiver and Pittsburgh would provide Pryor with a stable environmental to grow as a person and as a professional.

Though it is a long shot, a fourth- or fifth-round selection in the supplemental draft would be worthwhile for a player with such a high upside, albeit at a new position.


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