EDIT: It was a fun thought, at least. The Raiders have selected Terrelle Pryor with the 18th pick of the third round of the 2011 Supplemental Draft. The Steelers reportedly had the last pick in each round, although I'm unclear as to why that is, or if that was the case for every round. Either way, he didn't get past Oakland at 18.
It's sort of pointless to read on, but below are some thoughts as to why the Steelers might have taken Pryor, along with some really good conversation in the comments section. Enjoy! - n.c.
There are plenty saying the Steelers shouldn't bother - not just with the idea of bringing in the controversial quarterback, but with messing with the roster at all.
The logic behind the Steelers putting a bid on former Ohio State quarterback and Pittsburgh native Terrelle Pryor in today's Supplemental Draft is sound, though. So much so, it won't be surprising to hear the Steelers landed Pryor, or at least, offered a pick in next year's draft for him.
With all due respect, this situation is completely different than the rumors that surfaced linking Michael Vick to the Steelers. Vick was a known commodity with loads of starting experience, thus, not a good fit on a team with their future QB in place and successful. Pryor is an enigma, but with high-end athletic ability, making him a low-cost work-in-progress at several potential positions.
The negatives toward selecting Pryor are broken into two parts, basically; character concerns and a lack of NFL passing skills.
Accepting money from boosters when one is 20-years-old and selling crappy Bowl merchandise are hardly marks against someone's character. The lower rounds of the draft are chock-full of players with stories like Pryor's. It's a reason for a team to draft a talented player without having to guarantee him much money.
SteelerNation has been raving about rookie TE Weslye Saunders all camp, his problems with the NCAA cost him a draft spot. No one seems to care now.
And who says Pryor has to be a quarterback? He's 6-foot-5, 230 pounds and ran a 4.41 40-yard dash at his workout Saturday. It makes little difference if he wants to be a quarterback (he threw very well at his workout, incidentally). Fact is, Pryor is not a free agent, therefore, he has no control over where he's going to be selected. Stands to reason he won't be able to control where teams want him to play, either. With most rosters already set, any team selecting him will only do so with some kind of assurance he will be receptive to the idea of playing either receiver (same size as Vincent Jackson) or tight end (same size but faster than Jermichael Finley).
Then there's the obvious connection the Steelers have with THE Ohio State University. Granted, much of it is based in defensive players and Dick LeBeau, but they've taken enough OSU players over the last few years (Cam Heyward, Thad Gibson, Doug Worthington and Santonio Holmes) to suggest an obvious connection exists.
If that connection led the Steelers to believe they can work with him, they'd maintain exclusive rights to a phenomenal athlete, and be able to develop him into a Steelers kind of player - whether that's at receiver, tight end or quarterback - for about $80,000 this year on the practice squad.
Let's not forget Steelers QB Charlie Batch was Pryor's mentor when he was in high school as well as when he was in college. If there's anyone in the organization prepared to speak directly to Pryor and show him what it takes to be a professional, it's Batch.
It could be a Crash Davis/Nuke LaLoosh kind of situation. Batch can continue to collect a paycheck by continuing to mentor Pryor, teaching him the ways of the league and keeping him focused. Pryor can put his natural athletic intelligence to work for a year learning how to run routes, or how to block.
Pretty small price to pay for what could be a good reward.
The practice squad is the perfect spot for him. Not giving him huge amounts of money right away will keep him hungry and motivated for a roster spot, and the NFL contract that comes with it. If the Steelers selected him and placed him on the practice squad, he can be signed to another team, but only if he's placed on their active roster. With his five-game suspension, no one is likely to do that, considering he is without a training camp or any effective time to digest the playbook. He is nearly assured of not playing a snap in the NFL this year.
Who better than Pittsburgh to develop that kind of talent? Look at what they did for Antonio Brown, Ryan Mundy, Chris Kemoeatu and David Johnson (all recent examples of starters or serviceable back-ups taken in the sixth round or later).
Not one of them, even Brown, has the physical attributes Pryor does.
While the market price could be higher than a fifth round pick, there will not be many multi-faceted 6-foot-5, 4.4 guys available next year in the later rounds. Sacrificing one of those picks now for the chance to mentor Pryor for a year seems like a smart investment for a team that, frankly, has drafted so well the last few years, they've earned the capital to take a gamble on a guy with Pryor's potential without losing anything significant.
Even if his likely position is somewhere other than under center, the Steelers would have time to give him an honest year of work as a quarterback. They're facing a few quarterback questions anyway. It's interesting Dennis Dixon played extensively in the second half of their preseason game against Philadelphia, and Charlie Batch didn't play at all. Maybe Dixon is on the trade block, and they gave him extensive reps as they search for a suitor.
Dixon has also said he wants to play, and has asked for a trade. Dealing him for, say, a fifth round pick would give them a no-risk reason to select Pryor (if he'd go that low) with their own fifth round pick.
No one is confusing Dixon for an elite passer right now, but he showed enough promise playing in reserve spots it wouldn't have been surprising if a team with a QB injury would give up a fifth or sixth round pick for him.
Let's add all this up:
- A great athlete without a known position went to a school with strong ties with the Steelers.
- Those ties extend to the Steelers roster, dating back over seven years with a long-tenured veteran.
- The Steelers are very deep and figure to play well into January once again, and have a positive track record of developing young talent. Those reasons give them the scratch to take on a project with great potential.
- They have a quarterback with starting experience who wants out of Pittsburgh, and could fetch the price it would cost to select the project player.
Perhaps that's why the Steelers were rumored to have had a meeting with Pryor Sunday, heading into the Supplemental Draft.
The continued development of young players is critical to the long-term success of a team. If they could pluck a guy with the physical talent Pryor has, give him time to develop under the guidance of one of the best personnel departments in the league at a low cost why wouldn't they? This isn't to suggest he should be groomed for a starting position. At the least, Pryor has shown poor judgement when in a position of entitlement.
It seems worth the risk. Would the Steelers go higher than a fifth round pick? Given their extreme lack of participation in the Supplemental Drafts of the past, odds say no, but it's intriguing, at the very least.