The third-round selection of Terrelle Pryor today proves this. The most recent incarnation of Al Davis is perpetually obsessed with football athletes rather than football players. Draft picks from the last four years have included Darren McFadden, Darrius Heyward-Bay, DeMarcus Van Dyke, Louis Murphy, Jacoby Ford and JaMarcus Russell.
All five of those guys (Van Dyke had the fastest 40 time in the field) were selected on the promise of potential, where they would turn their athletic gifts into skills that could be utilized on the football field.
Only McFadden has done that, and that was in a small sample size from last year.
Before John Madden left his post as coach of the Raiders in 1979, the Raiders were a team famed for their defense prowess. Since then, the Raiders have become a team forever in search of football players who could double as track stars. Al Davis is at the front of this movement, with it reaching its pinnacle in recent years, where in the last three draft classes, the Raiders selected the players with the fastest 40 times at the combine.
Terrelle Pryor is the culmination of Al Davis’s “vision”. He is fast—likely the second-fastest quarterback in the NFL, behind Michael Vick— has marginal football skills, questionable ethics and an athlete’s body.
He is the perfect test subject for a quarterback/wide receiver hybrid, something Davis has likely dreamed about for years.
Whether Pryor wants to be a part of Davis’s “vision” is solely up to him. On paper, he looks as if he closely resembles the archetype. Traditionally, quarterbacks are always weary of transitioning to different positions (Tim Tebow comes to mind).
Al Davis, for all his faults, is a hard person to say no to, and Pryor could find himself in a situation he doesn’t want to be in.
The Oakland Raiders are forever tantalized by speed, but whether that gift translates into tangible football skills is a whole other story.