It’s been some time now since Cleveland Browns wide receiver Terrelle Pryor was a star quarterback for Ohio State, but it hasn’t been so long since the once Heisman hopeful resigned himself to the reality that his best opportunity to carve out a role for himself in the NFL is to abandon his quarterback dreams and try to stick as a wide receiver.
The Browns and new head coach Hue Jackson are giving him that opportunity because he possesses intriguing size and athleticism, standing at 6’4” and weighing 235 pounds with a quarterback’s understanding of how an offense is supposed to work. He wouldn’t be the first college quarterback to successfully make the transition, after all.
But if he doesn’t make it this year, the feeling is that he never will. Which is why Jackson and company are determined to decipher whether or not he can be a playmaker that they desperately need in their offense, which has been largely gutted—particularly at wide receiver—over the course of the past two seasons.
According to Terry Pluto writing for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, “the coach has already drawn up plays to put the ball in the hands of Pryor and let him run”, designed plays such as short passes and reverses that give him the opportunity to make a play with the ball rather than rely on him to get open consistently to have an impact.
Pluto mentions that Jackson was complimentary of Pryor’s spring performance, saying that he “flashed” during OTAs and minicamp, and that there is the believe that he has the “raw ability” to become a playmaker, but the reality is that we are all a long way off from being able to have an opportunity to determine that.
One thing that can be said is that there should be an opening for Pryor if he does manage to earn it on the field, to find some snaps on Sundays for the Browns’ offense. They cleaned house at the wide receiver position, leaving only Andrew Hawkins, who missed much of last season with concussions, and Taylor Gabriel, as their ‘experienced’ options.
Of course, the hope is for first-round draft pick Corey Coleman to immediately assume the role as the team’s top wide receiver, but behind him, there is very much a jumble in the wide receiver room, with plenty of roles to be had for the first person to come up and claim it.
The Browns also hope to get receiving production out of the tight end and running back positions with Pro Bowl tight end Gary Barnidge and second-year running back Duke Johnson, who flashed last season as a pass catcher.
But the question mark lying beneath the surface of all of this potential in this offense is, of course, who will be throwing these skill position players the football. The Browns have not had an answer at that position essentially since they were still the Ravens, and there are as many questions about Robert Griffin III as there are about Pryor.