The Oakland Raiders turned to Terrelle Pryor at quarterback this season, after he was able to outperform Matt Flynn in training camp and the preseason. Since taking over as the No. 1 signal-caller, Pryor has been a pleasant surprise and helped the Raiders perform at a level that most of us were not expecting.
Because of his rapid development from the seasons past, people are beginning to wonder whether Pryor’s play will allow the team to overlook quarterback in the 2014 NFL Draft and build around him as the quarterback of the future.
Fansided.com’s Josh Sanchez approached me recently to talk about Pryor’s development this season as well as some of his shortcomings and if he is the quarterback of the future for the Raiders at the moment heading into an offseason where they are nearing $70 million in cap space.
Here is what I had to say.
What were the realistic expectations for Pryor when he was named the team’s starter?
Ruttig: The realistic expectations were that he could mask what is the worst offensive line in the NFL right now with starting left tackle Jared Veldheer on the partial injured reserve and not expected back to around Week 9. Pryor has lived up to that expectation and more as Oakland continues to lose bodies on their offensive line.
Have you been impressed or disappointed with how he has played so far?
Ruttig: Very impressed. It is clear that Pryor took his impressive end to 2012 in Week 17 against the San Diego Chargers and went into the offseason with the mindset that he was going to become a starting quarterback in the NFL. He worked with Tom Brady’s old throwing coach in Tom House, got rid of a lot of the quirks in his game to become comfortable in the pocket and is now a legit dual threat quarterback in this league. With essentially an entire starting offensive line sitting out at various points of the season Pryor has been also doing this with an incredibly high degree of difficulty so it appears that at the bye week for the Raiders the future is bright.
What are the areas that he needs to improve the most?
Ruttig: Decision making, Pryor has the tendency to hold onto the ball for too long if nothing is going on downfield or to throw the ball across his body or blindly into coverage if he is under pressure. He was sacked ten times in the loss to Kansas City and a lot of those were his fault because he could have easily threw the ball out of bounds and saved yardage, those sacks in addition to some costly interceptions took Oakland out of that game. If they are going to make something out of a season with low expectations that will need to get better in a hurry once they return from the bye.
How can the team help him continue to develop?
Ruttig: Pryor went back to work with House this week so he is obviously doing the best he can to work on his fundamentals, but to develop as a true quarterback in the pocket he needs better protection. Whether it be getting a long list of missing players healthy, or using more cap space in the summer Pryor needs a better line to show his true ceiling and if he can mold himself into a more disciplined player.
Do you believe Pryor is the quarterback of the future? Should the Raiders still draft a QB in next year’s draft?
Ruttig: I believe that Pryor is the quarterback of the future for at least 2014. He is still at a very low cap hit for the Raiders next season nearly thanks to being a Supplemental Draft pick after the Ohio State fallout and with the Raiders having nearly $70 million in cap space next season they could really build a team around Pryor’s playmaking abilities. I think that low salary and Pryor’s dedication to getting better will earn him the job because I truly believe that he can become one of the best mobile quarterbacks in the NFL.
Still Reggie McKenzie would be wise to look at a very lucrative list of draft eligible quarterbacks come the spring, he picked up three quarterbacks over the offseason this year so it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see RM select a top quarterback in the draft to compete with Pryor. Likely not in the first or second round, but the amount of rumors that come out of Oakland involving the GM looking to bring in quarterbacks shows that Pryor hasn’t earned the tag of franchise quarterback quite yet from Reggie and Dennis Allen.
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