The Oakland Raiders selected former Ohio State QB Terrelle Pryor in the third round of the NFL supplemental draft Monday, a risky pick but one that fits the Raiders' philosophy of often looking for talented athletes they feel can be developed into elite players, rather than more fundamentally sound players who can immediately fill roster holes.
Indications are Oakland is looking at Pryor more as a wide receiver than a quarterback in the NFL, and while that's an encouraging sign, given his deficiencies as a passer, the third round is still very early for a player who is a developmental project at wideout. Pryor lined up at receiver a few times at Ohio State, but there's a huge difference between getting by on athletic ability and knowing the position well enough to succeed against NFL defenders.
Pryor now has two weeks to begin the transition before his five-game suspension begins in Week 1 of the regular season. He'll have to immediately get to work learning how to run routes, which is harder than it sounds, especially for a player who is 6-foot4⅜ and 233 pounds.
Film work will be important throughout the process as Pryor learns how to read the body language and leverage of defensive backs; how to set up his breaks; and how to read the more complex coverage schemes he'll see in the NFL. And he'll surely spend plenty of time catching passes from the Juggs machine.
Mentally, the pressure will be on to learn the playbook and all its terminology; what's expected of receivers in the overall offense (including blocking responsibilities); and how to fit into an NFL locker room. Pryor won't get any passes, either. He'll be treated just like any other third-round pick trying to make a roster.
Spending five weeks away from the team will make all of this even more challenging, and given all the obstacles he's facing, I don't expect Pryor to contribute significantly at any point this season. Not only will he be far behind the rest of the team developmentally, Pryor simply doesn't bring anything unique to the table. The Raiders already have two fast, good-sized receivers -- Darrius Heyward-Bey and Louis Murphy -- who already know many of the things Pryor will be just beginning to take in.
As long as Oakland feels it is in contention when Pryor is eligible to be added to the roster in Week 6, I just don't see the Raiders relying on a player who is learning a new position and all its nuances while at the same time adapting to the increased speed of the NFL game. If it starts slowly or falls out of contention late, Pryor might get a chance to play more snaps, but as it stands right now it's hard to imagine him having a big role in the offense in 2011.
With Trent Edwards and Kyle Boller on the quarterback depth chart behind starter Jason Campbell, Pryor likely won't be in the mix there and can focus all his energy on becoming a serviceable wideout. That will help his cause, but the work is just beginning and we might not see much of Pryor during his rookie season.