Browns should take flier on Terrelle Pryor

June, 16, 2011
6/16/11
2:38
PM ET
Colt McCoy and Terrelle PryorKirby Lee/US PresswireEven with Colt McCoy in the fold, the Cleveland Browns should take a look at Terrelle Pryor.
Former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor shouldn't have to look far for his ideal NFL fit. If they're smart, the neighboring Cleveland Browns should be the first team in line to take the raw and talented prospect in next month's supplemental draft.

Cleveland, coming off back-to-back 5-11 seasons, is desperate for talent at any position. Pryor presents the perfect scenario for the Browns: He comes at no risk but could offer a high reward.

Pryor is projected to be a fourth-round pick in July's supplemental draft by everyone not named Drew Rosenhaus. That's a modest cost for someone with Pryor's athletic ability, big-game experience and pedigree. That is especially the case for the Browns, who have nine draft picks next year -- including two first-rounders -- following a cunning trade with the Atlanta Falcons.

The Browns have draft picks to spare in 2012. Why not grab Pryor now and begin teaching him the nuances of the NFL game?

In Cleveland, Pryor would work with two quarterback gurus -- Browns president Mike Holmgren and head coach Pat Shurmur. The pair developed NFL quarterbacks such as Brett Favre, Matt Hasselbeck, Donovan McNabb and Sam Bradford, just to name a few. Like many observers, I have doubts about Pryor at quarterback in the NFL. But I like his chances a lot better working with Holmgren and Shurmur.

At best, Pryor turns out to be a viable starting quarterback in the NFL. Otherwise, Pryor could try his talents at wide receiver. Oh, by the way, the Browns need help there, too. They have arguably the league's worst group of receivers.

Holmgren said after the draft that his only regret was that Cleveland didn't select a developmental quarterback in the later rounds.

"I think philosophically, I always like to take a quarterback in the draft late," Holmgren explained. "But that also had to make sense. This year, based on our roster needs and what we had and what we needed to do, we did the right thing. Now, are we finished adding to the quarterback pile? I don’t think so. ... I think we are going to try and figure out a way to get another guy in here."

Adding Pryor in the supplemental draft would address those concerns.

Despite his big name, Pryor would not be a threat to second-year quarterback Colt McCoy, who enters the year as the starter. Pryor and McCoy played in the 2009 Fiesta Bowl and developed a healthy respect for each other in college.

[+] EnlargeTerrelle Pryor
AP Photo/Jay LaPreteTerrelle Pryor finished his college career with 6,177 passing yards, 57 TDs and 26 interceptions.
Pryor would provide "McCoy insurance" for Cleveland, which is needed. The Browns are backing McCoy this season, but no one knows for sure if he is the long-term solution. With Pryor, the Browns would have two young quarterbacks to develop simultaneously and could double their chances of having one pan out.

Behind McCoy is backup Seneca Wallace, who signed a three-year extension in March and knows the West Coast offense better than anyone. But the third quarterback spot is there for the taking.

Struggling veteran Jake Delhomme, 36, is holding the seat warm until a new collective bargaining agreement is reached. After that, Delhomme’s immense $5.4 million salary kicks in and Cleveland is expected to terminate his contract.

If you were general manager of the Browns, would you rather have an aging, overpaid veteran as the third-string quarterback, or an inexpensive player with upside like Pryor, who may develop into something greater down the road? The answer is a no-brainer.

The Browns are not the favorites to land Pryor. The current regime has taken a conservative approach to building the team's foundation -- and there's nothing wrong with that. Drafting Pryor is anything but conservative, but this would be a perfect calculated risk for Cleveland to take.

The worst-case scenario is that Pryor flops in the NFL and the Browns miss on a fourth-round pick, a spot that doesn't have a high success rate to begin with. Cleveland could wait to use that pick next year on a punter or a right guard and get the same result.

Opportunity is knocking in Cleveland. The team just has to be smart enough and willing enough to answer the door.

The Browns would be wise this summer to take a flier on Terrelle Pryor.

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter

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