While discussing the strengths and weaknesses of quarterbacks Ryan Mallett(notes) and Terrelle Pryor over the weekend, one NFL general manager came to this conclusion: "Yeah, when you look at it overall, they're pretty equal."
That was proven correctly on Monday when Pryor was picked in the third round of the NFL's supplemental draft. Pryor went to the Oakland Raiders with the 82nd overall pick, not far behind where Mallett went in April, when he was the 74th overall pick by the New England Patriots. Sadly for Pryor, his chances of long-term success aren't close to Mallett's now.
Pryor needs discipline after dashing from NCAA investigators to the NFL. He needs an organization that is just that – organized. Instead, Pryor has landed on a team where the self-absorbed get thrown into a big bucket with a brine of willfulness and a hint of ego glorification.
If you talk to a handful of people from Ohio State and NFL personnel who have done a modicum of homework on Pryor, they will tell you that Pryor's biggest problem is he has never been told no. Former Ohio State coach Jim Tressel consistently let Pryor do whatever he wanted. In the end, it cost Pryor his final season in college (a season he could have used for development of his immense skills) and Tressel his job.
Now he goes to an organization that develops quarterbacks the way Nevin Shapiro and Bernie Madoff handle investments. Name the last quarterback the Raiders really nurtured?
The situation with Russell is most instructive in this situation. Owner Al Davis picked Russell, seeing him as the second-coming of Plunkett from an athletic perspective. Davis then let Russell run wild over coaches Lane Kiffin and Tom Cable. Those coaches tried to discipline Russell from time to time, but Davis either waived the fines or didn't do anything until it was way too late.
Now comes Pryor, who should have been a first-round pick. The fact that some thought he should have gone in the fifth or sixth round was an overreaction to his selfishness. There just aren't that many human beings who can do what Pryor can do. When you have a chance to get them, you draft them.
But you better have a plan for them, too.
That's what the Patriots will do with Mallett. On the first week of training camp, New England coach Bill Belichick was in the middle working with all the quarterbacks, even Mallett. That's not because Belichick is getting ready to replace Tom Brady(notes) tomorrow. (People close to Belichick think Mallett will never play a meaningful down for the Patriots.)
"I know Bill took that kid just because he knows he can turn him into something more later on," another general manager said. "All the concerns about that kid's attitude … he won't be there long enough for that to have an impact on the locker room. Bill will get him ready, put him on display in some exhibition games and then trade him away for a first-round pick or something like that."
In the meantime, Mallett will hopefully benefit from just being around guys like Belichick and Brady. Perhaps something about their seriousness will rub off on him. Mallett needs it a lot more than people close to him are willing to admit. Aside from the sordid tales of him from college, the latest story about him was the all-night partying he did at the NFL Players Association rookie symposium in Sarasota, Fla., in July, according to two sources.
There's nothing wrong with a 20-something doing a little partying. However, when that's a black mark on your reputation and you're now trying to make it in the NFL, you'd think one would change that a little. Now that Mallett is with the Patriots, he will either learn or get kicked to the curb.
[Photos: See more of Terrelle Pryor]
With Pryor, he may never get that message. He may never be told that his routine is played out and that it's time to work on his game instead of get by on talent. He will likely never look at fellow quarterback Jason Campbell(notes) and think he can learn anything from him. At Ohio State, he didn't listen to older players, in large part because Tressel never told him he had to.
Oakland coach Hue Jackson will talk a good game about disciplining Pryor. Jackson will tell people "I'll put my foot up his butt if I have to" (or at least some statement like that). The problem is that Jackson is just another Raiders coach, as disposable as Cable, Kiffin, Art Shell, Norv Turner, Jon Gruden and all the other guys Davis has run through there.
Whatever plan Jackson has is doubtful to last long and that means the only planning will be left to Davis, who is too old and too weary to carry it through himself. That's why it's more appropriate than ever that Davis takes another speed merchant (Pryor ran between a 4.36 and 4.42 40 on Sunday in his workout for NFL scouts).
The 82-year-old Davis is trying to beat the clock. There's no time for plans.
That means there's probably no shot for Pryor.
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- Terrelle Pryor