The Supplemental Draft was probably not what former Buckeye's star QB Terrelle Pryor envisioned for his grand entrance into the NFL. He probably had dreams of going in the first round, preferably to a team with a talented offensive core in need of a quarterback. He probably played the interview with Mel Kiper Jr. and the rest of the ESPN Draft crew over a thousand times in his mind.
I don't think his plan included being picked between Caleb King and Michael McAdoo. But, that's life.
Now that we know Pryor will officially make it to the big leagues in 2011, the next question is: how will the NFL work out for him? The following slides contain the best and the worst case scenarios for the former Buckeye QB. Enjoy!
Hear me out.
I know I've written a recent column saying that Pryor should not have been suspended by the NFL for his conduct while playing in the NCAA. I still stand behind what I wrote in that piece: the league should not have suspended Pryor.
However, what's done is done (until it's appealed). In the end, the five-game suspension levied by NFL Commissioner Rodger Goodell might be the best thing for Pryor. He'll officially enter professional football on Wednesday—right around the time most teams break training camp. He'll have missed all of the team's offseason activities (what few there were), be completely unfamiliar with the playbook, and have zero chemistry with anyone on the offense.
NFL teams can run upwards of 2,500 plays over the course of a training camp. Players spend countless hours in meetings with coaches, trainers, and teammates trying to master the playbook, establish chemistry and learn everything there is to know about their opposition. Pryor has already missed all of that, too.
And that is why this suspension might be a good thing. Pryor now has five full regular season weeks—in addition to the two remaining pre-season weeks—to catch up. He'll have no pressure to be game-ready come week 1 of the regular season. He will not be one injury away from entering an NFL game unprepared. He'll have some time to get settled into the league, take a breath and get to work learning everything there is to know, all without the pressure of having to play in an actual game for awhile.
Playing quarterback at the NFL might be the most difficult job in professional sports today.
It's not just about throwing a ball around the field—it's about being able to read a defense, alter the offense accordingly, find an open receiver before he's actually open and then throw the ball to the correct location. And all of that must be done in oh, less than 45 seconds while 11 highly paid professional freaks of nature are scheming to decapitate you. Sound fun?
Imagine trying to do all of that as an inexperienced rookie. Now take away all of the preparation time, the mastery of the playbook and the knowledge gained from countless hours in the film room. Finally, take away anything resembling "feel" or "chemistry" with teammates on the offensive side of the ball.
How well do you think the rookie would fare in the aforementioned situation? Terribly? I agree. That is exactly why Terrelle Pryor should not be running an offense any time soon.
Let me offer a disclaimer: I don't care one way or another about either of these teams.
That being said, both the Steelers and the Patriots have the infrastructure in place to help Pryor get his life (and career) back on track.
Mike Tomlin and Bill Belichek are two of the best coaches in the NFL. Both have exactly zero tolerance for drama, egotistical behavior or a poor work ethic. Both have a strong track record of developing high-caliber players. Neither would think twice about showing Pryor an excessive amount of tough love (or tough hate).
And that is exactly what Pryor needs—he needs to be in a structured environment where strict boundaries have been set. He needs to be a part of an organization that exemplifies the belief that the team comes first. He needs to associate himself with players that check their egos at the door and are willing to do whatever is in the best interest of the team, period.
Terrelle Pryor will not make or break the Steelers or the Patriots. However, he can learn quite a bit from the players on their respective rosters. He can have an opportunity to experience playoff football (albeit from the sidelines). He can be a part of an organization that has molded many young men into successful professional athletes.
Both New England and Pittsburgh are terrific places for a player like Pryor to start his career. He will likely never start for either team, but that is not all that important right now. What is important is Pryor getting his life and his career back on track. What is important is Pryor demonstrating he has what it takes to be an NFL player.
For Pryor to get his life and career back on track, he needs stability, discipline, and time. The Bengals, Raiders, and a few other franchises offer little-to-nothing in any of those departments.
With the Raiders, who knows if Al Davis is going to fall in love with Pryor and demand he start Week 1 (see the previous worst-case scenario slide for just how well that will go). Given Pryor's skill set, it's actually likely. It just wouldn't be good for anyone involved.
The Bengals are in shambles at the QB position. Andy Dalton? Bruce Gradkowski? Dan LeFevour? If you are an NFL fan and haven't heard of any of them, you're probably not alone. Its not exactly a group that inspires confidence—and it's not a group I'd be confident in saying can beat out Terrelle Pryor for the starting job. That's pretty bad, all things considered.
Again, for Pryor to thrive, he needs time. He needs discipline. He needs to be in a team-first environment. He needs to not be in Cincinnati or Oakland.