Now that an ample amount of time has gone by since the signing of Terrelle Pryor by the Cleveland Browns, it is time for this writer to make a statement. Please stop dwelling on what happened at Ohio State when Pryor was the quarterback of the Buckeyes and give him a fair shot at earning a spot on this football team.
Since the day Pryor and the Browns announced the former quarterback would finally be making the switch many expected when he first came to the league, it seems as if fans have made predetermined judgments based on his past in Columbus. In the process, many have forgotten that Pryor is a 6’4” and 220-pound freak of an athlete who possesses 4.4 40-yard dash speed and athleticism players in the league would kill for.
Now 26-years old, many wish to hold the mistakes he made as a kid in college against him many years later. Furthermore, these mistakes have seemingly become a reason why he cannot make the switch from the quarterback position to wide receiver at the NFL level.
AB style. pic.twitter.com/p12IFszB8i
— Terrelle Pryor (@TerrellePryor) June 24, 2015
For a moment, let’s forget about Pryor’s past and how he hurt Buckeye nation and focus on what he is doing to prepare himself for the challenge of switching to wide receiver. If you follow him on social media, you will see the receiver is not only working hard on route-running, but he has aligned himself with two pretty good teachers to make the switch—Randy Moss and Antonio Brown.
Anyone with a set of eyes can see Pryor is highly motivated and dedicated to making the switch to wide receiver, and if you go back to the touchdown catch when he was in college—it appears he could do it with ease.
Pryor has the drive, athleticism and natural talent to play the game—but the question people should be asking is in regard to whether Cleveland Browns fans will see those talents come to use as a receiver in Cleveland. With the current composure of the Browns roster, can the Browns really afford to have Pryor holding a roster spot without knowing whether he can actually play the receiver position or not?
This question was posed on Twitter by an NFL agent to me today, and it is a very valid one. Without examining every aspect of the Browns roster, just looking at wide receiver and tight end the Browns currently have quite a few players who could be vying for a roster spot catching passes from Josh McCown (or Johnny Manziel) this season.
Starting at receiver, the team signed Dwayne Bowe and Brian Hartline in the offseason to add to the likes of Andrew Hawkins and Taylor Gabriel who both made significant contributions to the team last year. After those four, Travis Benjamin and rookie Vince Mayle will be competing with Marlon Moore, Rodney Smith, Kevin Cone, Josh Lenz, Shane Wynn, Darius Jennings and Pryor to make the roster. Obviously a number of these guys will be cut or on the practice squad, but you get the drift—there is a lot of competition for Pryor to fight through.
After the receivers, the Browns have quite a few tight end options—a position some think Pryor could fit at—in the mix as well. Free agent acquisition, Rob Housler, is expected to challenge Gary Barnidge and Jim Dray to replace the departed Jordan Cameron. On top of that, there has been a lot of positive talk out of OTAs in regard to the performance of undrafted free agent, E.J. Bibbs, out of Iowa State.
Assuming the Browns keep six WRs and three TEs on the active roster, Pryor would likely have to displace Benjamin, Moore and Smith at the WR position (giving Mayle the nod as the No. 5 WR) to make the WR rotation. If the team were to view him as a TE, he would likely have to beat out both Dray and Bibbs.
As you can see, when looking at Pryor’s chances to make the Browns roster, there are more obvious things to discuss than his past at Ohio State that could hold him back from becoming a WR. Though many of the players he is going up against at WR have yet to prove themselves in the NFL, they have been playing the position a lot longer than he has and can offer more in terms of immediate route-running.
In order for Pryor to make the roster, he has to flash enough potential with his speed and what he has learned from Moss and Brown to be more intriguing than the players on the end of the Browns WR pecking order. His connection with the Browns offensive staff from his days in Oakland will certainly help, but it will likely be an uphill battle for the former Buckeye to realize his potential as a receiver in Cleveland.
For the time being, Browns fans should sit back and enjoy what could be an intriguing battle between Pryor and the younger receivers in camp. Because if he can learn the art of the double move and turn some heads by burning a very good secondary in camp, do not be surprised if he ends up on the opening day roster for your Cleveland Browns.