Flashback to Week 17 of the 2012 NFL Season. The Oakland Raiders season and the Carson Palmer Experiment in Oakland was officially over for weeks and the Raiders decided to finish off their season by giving former Ohio State star Terrelle Pryor his first NFL start. One of college football’s most dynamic mobile quarterbacks before a scandal ended his career at OSU, Pryor did not disappoint with a chance to showcase his skills and to end his second NFL season in Oakland on a high note.
The Raiders may have lost the game but Pryor was on point on that final Sunday of 2012. His final numbers were solid, 13 completions for 150 yards, two passing touchdowns and the expected rushing touchdown and 49 yards as he kept the Raiders in the game and gave them a chance to win.
With some decent preseason showings, the opinion is out there that Pryor could perform as a starter, but the question is if Pryor will ever actually get that chance after losing his NCAA eligibility and then missing the first five games of his rookie season under an NFL mandated suspension.
This offseason presents Pryor’s best and perhaps last chance to slide his way into a starting role and attempt to prove himself as a legitimate starting quarterback option in the NFL.
With the trade of Carson Palmer to Arizona, the Raiders have four unproven quarterbacks coming to training camp as Matt Flynn, rookie draft pick Tyler Wilson and undrafted free agent Matt McGloin will be Pryor’s competition at camp leaving the window open for any combination of Flynn, Pryor, and Wilson on the depth chart as a possibility.
Flynn will be coming into training camp as the favorite and as one of the Raiders more flashier offseason transactions and the man given the nod as Carson Palmer’s replacement will have the job to lose. Throw in the fact that Flynn has looked pretty damn good in his two only NFL starts and the fact that Reggie McKenzie and Dennis Allen will likely not want to have to answer to the fact they spent money on a guy who lost his job to Russell Wilson last year and then lost his job again and you can easily see Flynn being a lock at the moment.
But it doesn’t mean it is right or that Pryor doesn’t deserve a shot. Blessed with a lot of “intangibles” that scouts love, Pryor has far more weapons than Matt Flynn has. One of the most explosive quarterbacks during his stay in Columbus, Pryor was a dazzling leader of a Big Ten powerhouse before everything went sour and it is easy to forget how high people were on Pryor before he turned into the scapegoat of Ohio State’s probation.
We are talking about a player who as a junior threw for 2772 passing yards and 27 touchdowns while rushing for 773 yards while doing it for Ohio State in the Big Ten A man who the great Al Davis honored by being his last pick in the 2011 NFL Supplemental Draft.
It is undeniable that Pryor has the potential to be an unique NFL talent, at his highest he good be a mobile 6′ 5″ quarterback that can run the 40 yard dash in under 4.5 seconds and can run an offense while being able to make things happen on broken plays. At the very least, Pryor is a change of pace if Flynn or rookie Tyler Wilson prove they can’t make things happen in the pocket.
Pryor’s career has been derailed ever since the memorabilia scandal ruled Ohio State out of bowl games and prevented Pryor from a senior season of development or the chance of being a high draft pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. Now heading into his third season and training camp as a pro, Pryor has at least four more chances in preseason games to show that he can be a playmaker in the NFL on a consistent basis.
2013 will be a defining year for Terrelle Pryor. With the Raiders expected to struggle we will see where Pryor stands with Dennis Allen, Greg Olsen and Reggie McKenzie if the team decides not to go with Pryor if Flynn can’t do the job.
Pryor’s Week 17 performance last season showed that what we all saw in Columbus is still in Pryor’s back pocket, waiting to be used and harnessed. Whether he can ever find a way to be dominant in the pro game remains to be seen, but he deserves a chance. It just might not be in Oakland as the drafting of Tyler Wilson and the acquiring of Matt Flynn point towards a long term rebuilding vision that just does not include the last draft choice of Al Davis and one of college football’s former brightest stars.