There is much speculation about the future of Ohio State junior QB Terrelle Pryor, who has been suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season for selling memorabilia and accepting discounts from a tattoo parlor, and must now decide whether he would be better off playing a shortened schedule next year or entering the 2011 draft.
Pryor is a good athlete with plenty of size (6-foot-3, 233 pounds) and adequate-to-good arm strength. He can extend plays with his feet and makes some spectacular plays both running and passing, but the two most important areas for an NFL quarterback are football intelligence and accuracy; Pryor is below-average in both.
He will use his mobility to buy time and can deliver good throws while on the run, but Pryor often struggles to read coverages, does not always step up in the pocket when he should and is often sloppy with his footwork. All of those deficiencies affect his accuracy.
And those who point to Pryor's improved passing stats as evidence of his progression as a passer are kidding themselves. Against the five most talented defenses on the Buckeyes' schedule -- Iowa, Miami, Wisconsin, Illinois, Penn State -- Pryor completed only 55 percent of his passes and threw six touchdowns against five interceptions.
Versus the seven other defenses he faced -- Indiana, Purdue, Minnesota, Michigan and non-AQs Marshall, Ohio and Eastern Michigan -- Pryor completed 75.8 percent with 19 touchdowns and just six interceptions.
All of that means Pryor would be outside the top five at his position on our draft board. Andrew Luck, Blaine Gabbert, Jake Locker, Cam Newton and Ryan Mallett would all rank ahead of Pryor, who would be the No. 6 quarterback with a third-round grade based mostly on his potential to move to wide receiver if he doesn't make big strides as a quarterback early in his NFL career.
Pryor will lead the Buckeyes into the All-State Sugar Bowl against Mallett and Arkansas, and Mallett clearly comes in with the more complete skill set. In fact, of the five position-specific areas in which we grade quarterbacks Mallett gets the edge in football intelligence, accuracy, toughness/leadership (slightly) and release/arm strength. Pryor comes out on top only in pocket mobility, and Mallett's nearly 6-foot-7 frame has a lot to do with that.
It's not for me to say whether Pryor should stay in school or head to the NFL. Only he and his family and coaches can make that decision, and it's a tough one. He needs more reps under center, but missing basically half of next season will rob him of valuable playing time.
Ultimately, Pryor put himself in this position and he's paying the price. As things stand now, it's clear the odds are stacked heavily against Pryor succeeding as an NFL quarterback no matter when he enters the draft.